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Sleep More, Weigh Less

If you’re wondering why you can’t stop yourself from putting on pounds despite your constant attempts at dieting and going to the gym, you may need not look beyond your own bedroom. Data shows that lack of sleep remains as the primary reason for unwanted weight gain in the United States. Why is this so? Researchers believe that sleep deprivation, or the regular habit of sleeping at less than the recommended rate of at least 7 to 8 hours per day, causes an imbalance in the production of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones in the human body that regulate the feeling of fullness and hunger or food craving, respectively. A person that did not get sufficient sleep tends to produce more ghrelin and lesser leptin, causing that person to feel hungry most of the time and less sated even after a meal, thereby bringing about a perceived need to eat more in between meals (which helps explain that craving for sweet snacks or desserts).

Another directly observed effect of sleep deprivation and low leptin levels is having a lower metabolism.  By converting lesser energy from the food that you eat, you get lesser energy needed to have a more active lifestyle while retaining more of the food in your body as fats. People with lower metabolism need to eat less food, but since the lack of leptin keeps them from feeling full, they end up eating more than they should, causing a cycle that leads to obesity. Aside from this, sleep deprivation is also believed to contribute in reducing a person’s muscle mass, making it more difficult to exert effort and burn fats.

There are numerous reasons why people fail to get a full night’s rest – lifestyle, stress, and psychological issues are just some of the causes – but the effects of sleep deprivation are equally devastating for all, not the least of which are the effects on your waistline and on the bathroom scale. Sleep deprivation, if left unchecked, can even lead to more serious disorders such as insomnia, respiratory disorders, and in some cases may even cause diabetes (due to a disrupted production of insulin) and cardiovascular diseases.

So how can lack of sleep be mitigated? Changing your personal lifestyle to promote good sleeping habits could be a good start. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet (apples, oatmeal, almonds, and green tea have been known to help increase leptin production) can improve hormone imbalance and increase metabolism. Simple changes such as going to bed earlier, getting more comfortable pillows and beds, or even using sleep mask to help filter out unwanted light sources, can go a long way in improving your sleeping rate. A good sleeping mask completely blocks out light and force you to sleep even if you don’t feel sleepy yet.  Another important change you can introduce to promote healthy sleeping is the removal of unwanted distractions such as televisions and game consoles in the bedroom, as the mere presence of these items would sometimes deter you from sleeping early.

About Medicina Maya

Medicina Maya is a health resource and blog founded by nurse Maya Tracy.

Maya devotes her life fully to take care of ill people, so they can recover from their health problems and improve their quality of life one by one.

Maya has an Associate Degree in Nursing and studied four more years to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her credentials are well-received by honorable educators and doctors in the medical industry.

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