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Sleeping Well: The Secret To Meeting Your Weight Loss Goals

When you’re struggling to lose weight, it’s easy to focus on the tangibles: the food you’re consuming and how much exercise you’re getting. Making these healthy decisions is integral to weight loss. But there’s another healthy decision that is central to meeting your weight loss goals: getting enough sleep.

A recent study out from the University of Colorado emphasizes what researchers have long suspected: getting a good night’s sleep is essential in meeting your weight loss goals.

The study tracked men and women over the course of two weeks in terms of their eating habits, sleep patterns, and metabolism. The goal of the experiment was to determine the effect of short-term sleep disruptions on a person’s metabolism. One group was allowed a maximum of five hours of sleep per night, while the other could have as much as nine.

The results were shocking: Although sleeping less increased a person’s metabolism (the sleep-deprived subjects were found to burn an average of an extra 111 calories daily), the subjects made up for it by binging on carbohydrates. The excess calories were primarily consumed as post-dinner snacks.

The result? By the end of one week of sleep deprivation the first group had gained an average of two pounds.

The results were consistent with those from another study published last fall in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This study, carried out by University of Chicago researchers, found that, on a cellular level, short-term sleep deprivation had profound effects. Fat cells became less sensitive to insulin after a bout of sleep deprivation similar to the study described above. This shift mimicked the biological changes that occur with obesity and diabetes. Yikes!

So, while we know that sleep deprivation definitively causes weight gain, at least in the short term, what does this mean for your weight-loss plans? Well, for one, it’s clear that getting a good night’s rest is absolutely required.

A little bit of science: When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone, which allows your body to recover from physical exertion and helps determine your metabolic rate. Similarly, you release more of a hormone called leptin when you are well rested, which decreases your appetite. Conversely, when you sleep less, your body produces more ghrelin (an appetite stimulant) and cortisol (a stress hormone that disrupts your body’s metabolic processes).

The good thing about being in this generation that we are in today is that there are now products available in the market that help us to sustain our diet and at the same time, allow us to have quality sleep like resurge products.

Michael J. Breus, PhD, a sleep disorder specialist, notes that during REM sleep (the part of your sleep cycle that involves dreaming) your brain consumes large amounts of glucose. Because of the way that the human sleep cycle works, the most significant part of REM sleep occurs after six hours of sleep. A study done in Sao Paulo suggests that one could lose as much as 14 pounds per year in this stage of sleep that occurs in the last two or three hours before waking.

In short: sleeping more increases the production of weight-loss friendly hormones, decreases the amount of weight-gain hormones, and allows your body to dream more. Plus, you’ll be less stressed out, skinnier, and, of course, less tired. So when you’re shifting towards better food and more exercise, don’t forget to make some time to get a good night’s rest.

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