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Sleep Yourself Slimmer

Sleep yourself slimmer by providing your body the ideal environment for producing hormones that positively influence weight loss.

Researchers have long known that those who receive less sleep at night, especially those suffering from insomnia, tend to be heavier and have more difficulty losing weight. Now they may have discovered one of the reasons why.

Although weight loss can be a complicated issue dependent upon many factors, one factor that is quickly gaining attention in scientific circles is the connection between sleep and two hormones which regulate appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Sleep science is increasingly showing that these two substances play an important role in the body's sleep and weight loss functions.

Leptin is a hormone which increases metabolism and also signals the brain that you are full — in effect, suppressing the appetite. Higher levels of leptin help you feel satisfied consuming less food, which assists weight loss. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates the appetite. Lower levels of ghrelin are therefore preferred for weight loss.

Studies recently undertaken at The University of Chicago and Stanford University have shown that subjects who receive less than the optimal amount of sleep hours actually have lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin than those who receive an ideal eight hours of sleep — the exact opposite condition desired for weight loss.

The result? When you're dealing with sleep deprivation, you tend to be hungrier the next day, and it takes more food to make you feel full. You also gravitate towards sweeter, starchier, or saltier foods typically with higher calories. Over time, this leads to an accumulation of higher levels of body fat. This explains why many people have such a difficult time losing weight when they don't sleep well.

Luckily, you can sleep yourself slimmer by simply getting a full eight hours of quality sleep every night. Not only will your appetite be easier to control, but you'll also be less inclined to reach for a sugary "pick-me-up" to keep you going when your energy flags. These are just a few of the multitude of benefits we experience from receiving an optimal amount of natural sleep.

In fact, when you get enough sleep, you get the sleep benefits that come with it. You should awaken feeling refreshed, alert and energetic. You'll have more energy throughout the day, which is conducive to sticking to an exercise routine, another vital component to weight loss. As a side bonus, you'll be more productive, think more clearly and overall be able to get more done in a day.

You'll also experience an increased ability to handle stress. This, in turn, affects weight loss due to decreased levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol. When elevated, this hormone can make you feel hungry even when you are full, and may lead to overeating when you have trouble sleeping.

A good night's sleep also increases our levels of human growth hormone, a protein involved with the regulation of fat and muscle proportion in the body. With more growth hormone, we increase our body's ability to release fat while retaining muscle.

When you are well-rested, your body is also better able to metabolize carbohydrates and regulate blood sugar levels. This results in lower insulin levels and thus less storage of fat in the body.

Your body requires a full eight hours of quality, uninterrupted, deep REM sleep every night to restore itself on many levels and keep you healthy. To insure that you obtain the optimal amount and quality of sleep, you may wish to adopt a few of the following suggestions:

  • Stop consuming food and beverages three hours before bedtime, so digestion will be complete and you will not need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night
  • Participate in relaxing activities that act as natural sleep aids to help you unwind for the last few hours of the day
  • Keep your bedroom as dark, quiet, and comfortable as possible, and reserve the space for sleeping
  • Go to bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep before you need to rise in the morning
  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule — try to fall asleep at the same time every night

Although getting a good night's sleep isn't the only factor involved with weight loss, it is certainly one of the most important. When you beat your sleep disorder and sleep yourself slimmer, it becomes that much easier to maintain the recommended healthy diet and exercise routine vital for weight loss.