What if you were told that there is an effective method to lose weight that is free and does not require you to change your diet or exercise habits? What if they told you that you can lose weight while you sleep? And that sleep itself, no magic apparatus, is one of the best kept secrets to lose weight?
Well it might sound too good to be true…
But true it is. To say people who sleep more often eat less (and are less hungry) may seem too simplistic, but in essence, that’s what multiple studies have concluded.
Studies behind lack of sleep and weight gain
Two studies found a relationship between sleep deprivation and the propensity to gain weight. In a study published in 2012 titled “Short Sleep Duration, Glucose Dysregulation and Hormonal Regulation of Appetite in Men and Women”, The participants consumed 300 more calories after sleeping 4 hours the night before instead of having slept 9 hours.
“That could translate to an increase of 31 pounds a year,” says Kelly Plowe, RD.
A 2006 study called “Association Between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women” followed more than 68,000 women for 16 years. The study found that women who slept 5 hours or less per night were more likely to gain weight compared to women who slept 7 hours a night.
Why do people who do not get enough sleep gain weight?
Sleep deprivation raises the levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which increases appetite; And decreases the levels of a so-called leptin, which indicates to the body that you are satisfied while eating. So, people who sleep less tend to overeat.
In a 2004 Stanford University study titled “Sleep Duration Affects Appetite-Regulating Hormones,” participants who slept less than 8 hours per night had higher levels of ghrelin, lower levels of leptin and more body fat. Those who had the least slept were the ones who weighed the most.
Lack of sleep and eating habits
It has also been shown that people who experience sleep deprivation are more likely to consume foods rich in high-calorie carbohydrates.
“Imagine you’re sitting in a room with a cookie,” says Dr. Sanjay Patel, a medical lecturer at Harvard Medical School and associate physician in sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “If you’ve rested enough, you probably think: I know it tastes good, but I’ll regret it in the future. On the other hand, when you are tired you are more likely to give in to the urge to eat it.”
Patel adds that when you are deprived of sleep you are likely to be less willing to exercise. This is why tiredness can influence not only making decisions like whether or not to eat a cookie, but also about whether to go to the gym or climb up the stairs instead of the elevator.
Get some rest
Although current research focuses on how sleep deprivation causes weight gain rather than how to sleep more helps to lower it, there is some evidence that it works both ways, says Dr. Patel.
Michael Breus, Ph.D; Author of “Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, a certified sleep-disordered psychologist and sleep medicine specialist in the last 15 years, realized for the first time the connection between sleeping more and losing weight in his medical practice.
“I had patients with obstructive sleep apnea who, on receiving treatment and starting to sleep well at night, lost weight. They came to see me and said, ‘I have not changed anything and I have lost 15 pounds.'”
Okay, most people do not have the sleep deprivation level of Dr. Breus’s patients, but the average adult sleeps only six hours and 51 minutes on weekdays, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
They state that most people need to sleep between seven and nine hours a night. Sleep quality is also important, bad sleeping habits can sabotage what otherwise would be a good night’s rest.
How to sleep better and lose weight while sleeping
STEP 1 – HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW LONG YOU NEED TO SLEEP IN REALITY.
What you are looking for is enough sleep to feel rested.
“That means you will not be dragging yourself tired at the end of the day,” says Patel. “You do not feel like taking a nap and you do not need coffee as a rescue to wake you up in the afternoon.”
But how do you determine the amount of sleep time you need?
Most adults have a time to wake up determined by external factors, such as when they have to get up to go to work or wake up their children.
Calculate, according to the time you have to get up, seven and a half hours back and that will be your time to go to bed, advises Breus. Why seven and a half hours? Sleep cycles last 90 minutes and the average person has 5 of them per night. However, there may be significant differences at the individual level, some need more time and some less. Breus explains that if you often wake up an hour earlier than your set time to get up, you only need six and a half hours of sleep. But, if after doing this experiment for a week you need an alarm clock to get up,
STEP 2 – MAINTAIN A FIXED SCHEDULE.
It’s not just about how many hours you sleep, also about regularity. In other words, what you should not do is sleep one night at 3 in the morning and another at 10 at night, even if you sleep the same amount of time in both. Patel warns that if you sleep four hours a few days and ten hours on weekends, you are more likely to gain weight.
“Your bedtime should not vary by more than half an hour,” says Breus, “but the real goal is your time to get up.”
When you wake up at the same time each day, this keeps your biological clock running more efficiently. Then, even if you go to bed a little later than normal do not sleep too much to try to compensate. What you should do is go to sleep a little earlier the next night. Breus also suggests spending 15 minutes in the sun each morning to help readjust your biological clock. This helps the body to condition itself to wake up to an hour and go to sleep at the same time every day.
And do not rely on the snooze button to give you the feeling of oversleeping when you set your alarm early. “The snooze button is the worst invention in the world,” says Breus, explaining that seven to nine minutes is enough time just for poor quality sleep.
STEP 3 – CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT PROMOTES SUCCESS IN THE DREAM.
During deep sleep, the body increases levels of growth hormone that degrades fat and has been associated with a lower risk of obesity. To increase the percentage of deep sleep (slow waves) you need to set the ideal conditions for a night of rest.
First, as Patel suggests, it maximizes good-quality (slow-wave) sleep by going to bed in a quiet, comfortable room, keeping it cool and dark.
Breus also recommends using at least 20 minutes to relax before going to sleep, reading in bed or meditating, for example. Avoid watching TV or using a laptop, tablet or mobile phone in bed, as exposure to the bright light of these electronic devices has been shown to reduce melatonin levels, which can disrupt sleep.
STEP 4 – REDUCE CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION, ESPECIALLY IN THE AFTERNOON.
Although caffeine may slightly decrease your appetite, it is also a stimulant that prevents you from sleeping. According to Breus, the easiest way to improve sleep quality is to reduce caffeine consumption.
“I do not think it’s okay to drink two, three or four cups of coffee in the morning,” Patel says, “but more suggests that you’re not getting enough sleep because it masks fatigue.” Patel recommends that you not consume caffeine six hours before going to bed. Breus extends it even further, he suggests that you do not take caffeine after 2 pm and limit your daily intake to 250 or 300 mg (about the amount in a couple of cups of coffee).
STEP 5 – DECREASE DRINK, ESPECIALLY BEFORE SLEEPING.
Sure, the drink makes you sleep, says Patel, but as alcohol is metabolized in your body, you will wake up more frequently, especially in the second half of the night.
“Alcohol is the # 1 sleep aid in the world, but it also interferes with deep, restorative sleep.” Says Breus. That is why he recommends that you do not take more than two alcoholic drinks a day and none within three hours before going to sleep.
STEP 6 – EXERCISE A LITTLE EVERY DAY
OK, you do not need to change your physical activity habits, but even a brief period of exercise ensures a better quality of sleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation survey.
“Doing any type of exercise, even if it is just a walk, will help your sleep quality,” says Breus. And it can even help you lose more weight.