Health & Wellness Articles

Why Snoozing is Important for Losing

Nutrition News Flash

Burning the midnight oil could be giving you the munchies the next day. A small study found that lack of sleep might trigger individuals to eat more. Twelve young men slept for only four hours on two consecutive nights. Then hormone levels and hunger ratings were recorded:
  • The hormone leptin, which alerts the brain that it is time to stop eating, was 18% lower.
  • The hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger, was 28% higher.
  • The men showed a 24% increase in assessing their "hunger rating" following the sleep restriction. The rise in obesity has occurred simultaneously with the decline in time spent sleeping. Currently only about 25% of young Americans get 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night. In 1960, 41% received 8 to 9 hours of sleep nightly.
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Additional studies are needed to confirm this initial study. However, consistently getting a good night’s sleep (at least 8 hours) may be one of the answers to maintaining a healthy weight. This sensible recommendation may be one of the easier lifestyle changes to make. Too busy for that much sleep? Try getting to bed an hour earlier each night when you can. Maintaining the same bedtime (and alarm time) each day (including weekends!) can also stabilize your circadian rhythm.

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Member Comments

  • Im working on it..
    Checked my records and it seems as if I loose less weight if I get less sleep.
  • If I am up in the middle of the night, I want to eat. Mostly brain hunger, but my body also thinks it is time to get first fuel for the day.
  • Great observations
  • Trinkerbon- I also got a CPAP machine about 4 months ago. I went from sleeping 3-4 hours each night to 7-8 hours now. What a difference it has made in my life. No more falling asleep at 3 in the afternoon and I go for a 2 mile walk almost every day.
    It's a good thing I can nap!
  • Sleep is important. I leave time for it, but it doesn't happen!
  • I actually had a conversation about this today at lunch. I haven't had enough sleep since school started up again, and I was noticeably more hungry the days after getting too little sleep, even with the exact same breakfast and activity level. On that's time for bed!
    We have really been studying this in the military, Some findings: wine is NOT good to drink within an hour or two of going to bed, contrary to popular opinion. And ice tea or other heavy caffeinated drinks result in caffein being retained in the body for up to 12 hours, so slow down or stop those drinks after lunchtime. Both those are hard for me...I love iced tea all day, and I love a glass of wine late at night. We have also found screens (TV and Computer Monitors) emit rays that cause you to have a hard time sleeping, so get them out of the bedroom or turn them off well before going to sleep. Just some initial findings that match others findings.
    I totally agree with this article because up until 10 months ago I was only getting about 2 1/2 hours of sleep a night because of a severe case of sleep apena! During the testing they discovered I quit breathing 114 times in a hour which was affecting my sleep and my heart.

    Everyday I would stumble through the day in a fog and I could never seem to get enough to eat, I was always hungry even shortly after I ate! I just kept packing on the pounds. I was so exhausted that it was hard to exercise because of the lack of energy. When I got my CPAP machine and I started sleeping the whole night and getting the rest my body needed, I no longer ate constantly and had more energy to exercise.

    Since that time I have lost 31 pounds and I am still going strong. Even though weight loss is never easy it has become so much easier now that I am getting enough sleep!
  • I'd definitely attest to this. I know I am always much hungrier (or so I think) if I haven't gotten enough sleep. So I always try to get my 7-8 hours of sleep every night which seems to be the perfect amount for me!
    I find that I do snack more when tired. I try to get eight hours a night, but find it easier to do in the winter, when nights are ling and I don't do very much outside.
  • FAUSTO1636
    I try to go to bed nearly the same time every night. No matter what time I go to bed I usually fall asleep fairly easily but I wake up around 4:30 a.m. and I cannot go back to sleep.
  • I would love to see them compare what light level people are sleeping under and what sort of effect that has. I've read some pretty convincing evidence that sleep matters for health because it affects neurotransmitter levels due to the amount of light exposure we get every day. Sleeping in a room full of light, then, would be as bad for us as not getting the sleep at all. Something to think about if you're struggling with your weight but have to work swing shift. Could be time to invest in some blackout curtains.

About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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