Get a good night’s sleep to help prevent weight gain.

These last couple of days I haven’t been sleeping very well and boy, do I feel the difference in my mood.  It doesn’t concern me too much since I know the reason why I’m not getting the normal amount of sleep I’m use to.  My daughter is in town and I’m spending every last minute with her, staying up way past my bedtime.  But she’ll be heading back home soon and I’ll be returning to my normal routine. I have to.  I know how important sleep is and not only for my mood and energy level, but also for my health!

Yes, it is true: sleep deprivation actually doubles the risk of obesity in both children and adults. I have researched this topic because I want to understand why a lack of sleep has anything to do with weight issues.  The information I have found has helped me understand the connection.

Not getting enough sleep causes an imbalance in two hormones; ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us hungry, or increases the appetite. Leptin is the hormone that does just the opposite (decreases our hunger). When we don’t get enough sleep at night, our levels of ghrelin go up and our levels of leptin go down, making us hungrier.

If a person is sleep-deprived, they tend to be hungrier, causing them to eat more, eventually resulting in weight gain. It’s as simple as that.

Supposedly, adults are supposed to get at least seven hours of sleep per night, but then I also read that someone sleeping 7-9 hours each night does NOT necessarily mean a person isn’t sleep-deprived. Obese people often suffer from sleep apnea when they repeatedly awaken during the night, leading to poor quality sleep. It almost seems as though sleep and obesity are a two-way street; bad sleep may lead to weight gain, and weight gain can lead to bad sleep.

During my lifestyle change, I made sure to continuously focus on my healthy eating habits, along with my daily exercise regimen of walking 1.5 miles daily.  Receiving a good night’s sleep wasn’t really on my mind back then, but when I think about it I can recall getting plenty of rest each night, at least eight hours.  I never considered my sleep pattern having anything to do with my weight!   It’s nice to know that I was doing the right thing, but I wish that I’d had this information when I was much younger.  Back then I received less than seven hours of sleep per night; thus, my weight continued to increase.

So I have a great idea for you this weekend.  Purchase and enjoy some fresh produce from a farmers market near you, take a long, brisk walk while enjoying the summer sun and, most importantly, get a good night’s sleep of at least 7-9 hours.    You’ll improve your mood, increase your energy level and possibly lose some weight too.

Do you get enough sleep to stay on track toward your fitness goals?

Photo credit AiyaHMPH

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