There are many strategies that are used to control or lose weight.
Paying attention to what you eat, controlling the calories consumed during the day, or exercising regularly are some of them. Now, new research bolsters the evidence for the benefits of another habit: getting a good night’s sleep.
Proper sleep is one of the cornerstones of lifestyle medicine, along with regular exercise, healthy eating, stress management or reduction, social connection, and avoiding dangerous substances.
The amount of sleep a person needs to rest properly can vary based on a number of factors, including age, lifestyle, and health status. However, the general recommendations for sleeping are:
- Newly born: between 16 and 18 hours a day.
- preschool children: between 11 and 12 hours a day.
- school-age children: at least 10 hours a day.
- Teenagers: between 9 and 10 hours a day.
- Adults (including older adults): between 7 and 8 hours a day.
When you suffer from insomnia there is difficulty falling or staying asleep, and it is possible to wake up too early and not be able to go back to sleep.
This disorder affects energy and mood, as well as performance and quality of life. Different investigations also indicate that it can increase the risk of chronic diseases.
Works such as those published in Current Opinion in Endocryonology Diabetes, and Obesity, PediatricsMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology u Obesity Reviews show that sleep restrictions or poor quality are associated with diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, and obesity or overweight.
Table of Contents
- Insomnia: what is the connection with what you eat?
The new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicinereinforces previous findings, and indicates that adults who are better rested consume significantly fewer calories than those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.
sleep to lose weight
The new study involved 80 adults ages 21 to 40 with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9, which is considered overweight. The BMI is a measure that is calculated by dividing the kg. times the square of height in meters (BMI = weight [kg] / height [m2]). Weight is considered normal when it is between 18.5 and 24.9, overweight when it is between 25 and 29.9, and obese when it exceeds 30.
All participants routinely slept less than 6.5 hours each night. During the first two weeks of the study, all maintained normal sleep patterns.
During the second two weeks, the participants were randomly divided into two equal groups.
With the goal of lengthening sleep times to 8.5 hours, one group received advice on ways to alter sleep-disrupting factors related to bed partners, children or pets.
These tips were not generalized, on the contrary, they were specific to each participant, and then there were follow-up visits with more advice. Meanwhile, the second group of participants continued with their typical sleeping habits.
All were told to maintain daily routines without changing diet or exercise habits. They each wore a wrist-worn device that tracked their sleep cycles and weighed themselves each morning. Sophisticated laboratory tests revealed the difference between the number of calories each participant consumed and expended each day.
After the second two weeks, the researchers found that participants who received sleep hygiene counseling slept more than an hour longer each night than those who continued their previous sleep habits.
The long sleepers also ate an average of 270 fewer calories each day and lost about a pound compared to the control participants, who gained just under a pound on average.
Why sleep well helps control weight?
There is no single answer as to why meeting recommended sleep times can help control or lose weight. However, some hypotheses are considered. One of them has to do with the fact that the duration of sleep is related to the body’s production of appetite-regulating hormones.
Lack of sleep is linked to higher levels of ghrelin (hormone that increases appetite) and lower leptin (hormone associated with satiety). Therefore, it is believed that sleeping more could alter the levels of these hormones and balance them.
According to the study authors, another reason that could explain this relationship is that when people rest properly they feel happier, more energetic and more alert.
This can lead not only to them exercising more but also to moving away from a sedentary lifestyle, spending less time sitting, and being more likely to socialize.
how to sleep better
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent sleep disorders and help you get a good night’s sleep. To do this, keep in mind:
- Consume foods rich in tryptophan, such as oatmeal, chicken, spirulina, dried herbs (such as mint), eggs, milk, legumes, peanuts and their butter, seeds, such as sesame and pumpkin seeds, or soybeans. Also nuts and fish.
- Avoid processed, sugary foods, spicy food or red meat.
- Drink relaxing infusions, such as orange blossom, ginseng, lavender, chamomile, passionflower, or banana tea.
- Do not consume caffeinated beverages after noon.
- Limit the intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Control your stress.
- Take hot showers before bed.
If, even following these tips, sleep problems persist, you should consult a health professional. This will make a diagnosis, identify why you can’t sleep, and determine the best treatment.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, Harvard Medical School, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.