How sleep helps metabolism, weight loss and general health

5th February 2014

How sleep helps metabolism, weight loss and general health

Almost everyone agrees that getting a good night’s sleep is a much needed blessing. And a full night’s sleep should be considered a necessity, not a luxury, in our fast-paced lives.

For there is ample evidence to show that getting your full quota of sleep helps you keep a healthy hormone balance – sleep helps metabolism, weight loss and general health.

Once you dip below seven hours a night, you’re increasing your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression, and obesity. Many researchers believe that slow-wave sleep…the deep, dreamless sleep that you ideally sink into about 3-4 times a night…may actually regulate your metabolism.

To understand this you need to know that sleep researchers break down sleep into 5 stages.

Stage 4, slow-wave deep sleep, which begins about an hour after we fall asleep, is when we release our greatest pulses of growth hormone (the hormone that prompts the body to burn stored fat in our bodies). This stage is therefore paramount in controlling our weight.

When we’re young, we spend about 20% of our time asleep in slow-wave stages 3 and 4; but as we grow older this can reduce to just 10% or even less. It follows that if you’re not sleeping enough then you’re not drifting into these stages for sufficiently long enough to replenish the body, its reserves, nor burn the stored fat there. Unfortunately that is only part of the picture.

It is also recorded that just 2 nights of poor sleep will cut your satiety hormone leptin by 20% and increase your hunger hormone ghrelin by 30%. Combined, the double whammy effect makes you much more likely to snack on high carb treats, which couldn’t come at a worse time for your insulin levels.

In a recent study conducted by the University of Chicago, researchers found that just 3 nights of poor sleep made the bodies of young, healthy test subjects 25% less sensitive to insulin.

This level of insulin resistance equated to that brought on by carrying 20-30lbs of extra weight. In order to block the fat-storage hormones, and to allow the full release of fat-burning hormones, you need to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

By doing so you are giving your body the best chance to lose or maintain weight…and, let’s face it, when you’re asleep you’re also reducing the time for eating!

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