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Sleep It Off! How Sleep Improves Weight-Loss

Losing weight is often a daunting task, whether it’s five pounds or five stone, but studies have shown that sleeping more can make a huge difference in the process.

Various studies by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) have found correlations between sleeping for longer and keeping a regular schedule, which could make losing weight much simpler.

One theory among researchers is that a lack of sleep can negatively affect your body’s ability to regulate neurotransmitters, also called chemical messengers.

These transmitters signal the need to consume calories, which means your appetite could increase if you sleep less.

According to the NCBI, two of the key hormones transmitted are called ghrelin, which promotes hunger, and leptin, which contributes to feeling full.

The body increases and decreases the levels of these hormones throughout the day, but when you haven’t slept enough, the body can become less able to regulate the hormones.

A study by the NCBI also suggests that people who are sleep deprived often choose to eat foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrates.

This is because sleep deprivation can decrease the activity in the areas of the brain that evaluate appetite.

Sleeping in a dark room and avoiding looking at your phone can help, as exposure to artificial light has been linked with increased weight gain.

Lack of sleep alters something called a circadian rhythm, which is essentially the body’s 24-hour natural cycle. Not sleeping enough or at the right times can cause this rhythm to be disrupted and therefore your metabolism to be negatively affected.

Metabolism is the chemical process by which the body converts what we consume into energy and affects what we want to eat and drink.

Having an unregulated metabolism can alter when and how much you eat; it can affect the amount of energy you have, and can impair your body’s tolerance for glucose.

These can all contribute to weight gain, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Make sure you don’t eat right before bed, as this could keep you awake, and studies have found that eating late can influence the success of weight loss.

Sleeping more means you'll get more out of your exercise

Losing sleep means that you may not get as much out of your exercise, which is essential to maintaining good health and can also help with weight loss.

The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week, but if you are tired, you may not be able to do this much.

If you struggle with a routine, try doing your exercise in the morning, or wake up earlier, as studies have shown that staying up late can lead to an increase in calorie intake.

Try to sleep more than six hours a night

A study of nearly 200,000 people by the NCBI found that participants who slept for a shorter amount of time were significantly more likely to be obese.

It also found that long sleep duration had no effect on future obesity.

Another study found that sleep loss can change how your body uses energy, which can cause increased hunger.

It found that participants who slept an average 5.5 hours a night had a decreased proportion of weight lost as fat by 55% than their counterparts who slept for 8.5 hours per night.

Trying to enforce a regular sleep schedule can help with this as it will help to keep your metabolism stable.

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