Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Nutrition of Sleep

Written by Meredith Terranova:

How many times do you try to convince yourself that you are doing just fine on 5-6 hours of sleep?

As you send out that last email, watch 30 more minutes of TV, or fold one more load of laundry before you turn the lights out, let's take a look at how a lack of sleep is effecting your body and metabolism.

Insufficient sleep causes a disruption of the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin which direct fat metabolism. When these hormones become resistant to cues from the brain due to dietary abuse or lack of deep sleep, fat is not released efficiently and remains stored as excess weight in the body. A study published in the journal Sleep, reveal that teenagers who received less than 8 hours of sleep per night consumed 2.2% more dietary fat on average.

Insufficient or disrupted sleep causes levels of the critical appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin to fluctuate leading to increased hunger. Normally, leptin signals the brain when you've had enough and it's time to stop eating.

Conversely, ghrelin sends the cue that you're hungry and ready to eat. In studies where sleep was deprived and subjects received less than 7 hours per night, leptin levels dropped and ghrelin rose, resulting in the urge to overeat. There was a direct correlation between the number of hours slept and the desire to eat too much. Those who were most sleep deprived had an overwhelming desire to eat, and didn't know when to stop.

More importantly, these participants desired high carbohydrates and other calorie rich foods nearly twice as much as those who slept at least 8 hours. Lack of sleep causes metabolic disruption affecting how body fat is stored and influences our hormones causing us to overeat. The best way to avoid weight gain from sleep deprivation is to plan a minimum of 7 hours and no more than 9 hours of sleep each night. Extensive research concludes that this is the proper zone to ensure optimal health and avoid weight gain from hormonal imbalance.

Additionally, you can help by making a conscious effort to limit or eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar from your diet, especially at night time. This will become easier to do as you normalize your sleep patterns since your desire for excessive carbohydrates will subside.

The body performs many essential repair functions while we sleep which lead to improved immune function and a disease free life.

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