The Link Between Sleep And Weight Loss

August 3, 2010

The Link Between Sleep And Weight Loss

Haven’t been sleeping well for months? Then you might notice your jeans feel a little tighter. As science uncovers more about the links between appetite, hormones, rest and stress, it’s becoming clear that a spike in the scales can be caused by multiple life factors.

Even if you’re a meditating, macrobiotic, morning jogger, other less obvious lifestyle habits could still be causing you to add on the kilos. The following hidden weight traps may be completely slipping under your radar and leading to unexpected weight gain in unexpected ways.

Too wired to sleep? Living on the run? All that stress can give you a jelly belly and not just from exhaustion making you hungrier. “When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol, which makes you store fat in case of famine,” says David-Cameron Smith, Associate Professor in Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University in Melbourne.

“This fat gain can become concentrated in your most active fat cells around the abdomen, which are highly sensitive to stress hormone receptors. Fat storage here is the most dangerous because it drains quickly to the liver, combining with cholesterol to enter your bloodstream, increasing your risk of heart disease down the track.”

Health tips: Kick back a little more (yes, you can find the time). Snatch one five-minute break every hour — even if you just stretch or close your eyes. Better still, block out half an hour quality me-time every day to read a book, listen to music or sit under a tree in the park (no, it doesn’t count if you’re sitting under the swaying branches stressing about work or your mortgage).

Engage in daily meditation or progressive relaxation (systematically tense and relax all the muscles in your body while breathing slowly and deeply). Do some exercise to boost the release of brain chemicals called beta-endorphins, which improve mood and promote calm. Finally, minimise foods such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol, which cause a spike in adrenal stress chemicals such as cortisol.

Catching zeds and countering stress are as important to maintaining your weight as counting kilojoules.

1) When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol, which makes you store fat.

2) Sleeping less than six hours a night can cause a 40 per cent drop in sensitivity to insulin, which bumps up your risk of weight gain and diabetes type 2.

3) Once your eyes and stomach get used to eating portions that are too big, you regard those serving sizes as normal.

4) Working more than 40 hours a week at the office strongly correlates with weight gain.

5) Hit the sack a little earlier each night and reap the weight-loss benefits!

Read the full article here.

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