- - Friday, March 13, 2015

Feeling sleepy this morning and constantly reaching for more coffee and a doughnut to wash it down? Those potato chips also seem to be calling our name louder than we remember. We just want that salt. And why not? We could use that extra boost of energy. And the gym workout is out of the question because we have a headache. Tonight’s menu will be takeout because we do not feel like cooking.

It’s no surprise that just one night of sleep deprivation can result in an extra 600-1,000 extra calories consumed in just one day. In fact, losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row caused people to pack on an average of about two pounds. Sleep has an effect on our appetite, physical activity, metabolism, and cues that tell us we are full. And a lack of it is enemy No. 1
to our waistlines.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About the Link Between Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain

Some Statistics
• People who averaged six hours of sleep per night were 27 percent more likely to be overweight than those who averaged seven-nine hours. People averaging just five hours of sleep per night were 73 percent more likely to be overweight.
• High quality sleep is associated with lower body fat while poor sleep correlated with higher body fat.
• Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day (particularly a consistent wake time) was most strongly linked with lower body fat.
• When enrolled in a weight-loss program, getting an adequate amount of good quality sleep increased the chance of weight loss success by 33 percent.

Blame it On … Hormones
We have hormones in our body that signal when the body is full and when the body is hungry. Ghrelin (sounds like “gremlin” without the “m”) makes our bodies want to eat; whereas, leptin tells our bodies that we are full. They act in a see-saw fashion and counterbalance each other.

A lack of sleep warps the way these hormones are released: More ghrelin, less leptin. This can significantly increase our appetite for high-calorie and high-fat foods. And if that wasn’t enough, we also experience a reduction in our rational decision-making abilities. A sleepy brain appears to not only respond more strongly to junk food, but also has less ability to rein that impulse in.

The Sleep Diet
Losing weight while we are sleeping and not even needing to break out a sweat? That is worthy of a Nobel prize. Someone weighing 150 pounds will burn 95 calories per hour while quietly sleeping. Although we are resting, our body continues to work and use up calories to sustain vital functions. For example, it is maintaining our body’s temperature, repairing cells, digesting food, and pumping blood.

And we burn the most calories while in deep sleep such as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is because our brain is highly active; sometimes more active than when we are awake. Calories provide the fuel or energy, and we need lots of it to fuel our thoughts. That’s a scary thought and maybe we should all get back in bed to ponder it.

Changing food into a form that can be used by our bodies is called metabolism. And because sleep loss can cause insulin resistance, it can decrease our metabolism. Insulin is a hormone that functions as a “key” to allow entry of glucose into cells and change it into energy to fuel work. When cells become insulin resistant, they are unable to use the hormone efficiently and metabolism is decreased.

Getting your ZZZ’s is one of the best prescriptions to keep the weight off and can even help us lose it. That’s food for thought: A diet plan that makes losing weight as easy as losing our cell phones or keys. It’s time to tame that little gremlin … I mean ghrelin. So let’s commit to sleeping more and getting rid of that weight. After all, losing it may mean you will find it again.

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