Jason Wanlass: Getting more sleep can help trim pounds

September 8, 2013 

In a general sense, most of us know what is required to lose weight: regular exercise and good nutrition. More specifically we may hear, “For weight loss we need to consume fewer calories than we burn on a daily basis.”

While that is a no-brainer and true in most cases, sometimes it’s a little more complicated. I’ve watched individuals who exercise five or more days per week, closely watch what they eat, and yet nothing seems to change.

So, what gives? Well, a lot of times it goes beyond the rule of eating less and moving more. Sometimes not getting enough rest and/or sleep can be the culprit. In fact, a wealth of current research has associated weight loss struggles with sleep deprivation. The following results have been found in individuals who lack adequate sleep:

• Increased production of the “hunger” hormone ghrelin, leading to increased food consumption.

• Decreased production of leptin, a hormone which plays a central role in fat metabolism.

• Higher levels of fatigue and decreased motivation to exercise.

• Decreased insulin sensitivity, which equals decreases in fat metabolism as well.

In other words, we are likely to feel hungrier, eat more and burn fewer calories when we’re lacking in Zzz’s — not a good combination for weight loss, to say the least!

On the flip slide, a good night’s sleep has many benefits for our bodies, including:

• Adequate production of growth hormone and testosterone, which helps improve strength, vitality and muscle recovery in men and women.

• Improved insulin sensitivity, which helps us to stay lean.

• Reduced risk of common colds.

• Increased resilience to stress.

• Improved memory.

• Increased exercise and physical performance.

So the next question is, how much sleep do we need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, on average most of us need at least seven to eight hours a night. Unfortunately, 30 percent of us are getting fewer than six hours per night.

In order to overcome this, setting yourself up for successful slumber is key. Outlined below are five ways to help you get more rest and, over the long run, less fat!

1. KEEP YOUR BEDROOM COOL

A warm room can make it difficult for your body to shut down, since it cools down right before sleep. Somewhere between 65-69 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended, though you could go as low as 60 if desired.

It may take a little experimenting to find what works best for you. In general, if your bed is chilly enough to make you shiver a little once underneath the sheets, you’re good to go.

2. MAKE YOUR ROOM AS QUIET AS POSSIBLE

Let’s face it, at nighttime, the creaking of the house, our pets stirring, loud neighbors, traffic noises, etc., can all interrupt sleep. Oftentimes, the use of a noise maker or a fan is necessary to block out disruptive sounds. And if necessary, grab some earplugs if it gets really noisy.

3. DARKER!

Did you know that melatonin will be produced by your body only when it is dark?

Any small amount of light can interfere with its production and impair sleep. Light creeping in through the doors or windows, the LEDs of electronic devices, cellphones — you name it.

Having good blackout shades, covering any devices in the room or using an eye mask can help make a big difference.

4. SLEEP ON A GOOD-QUALITY MATTRESS.

This should go without saying, but if your mattress is 5 to 10 years old or, even worse, resembles a trampoline, it’s time for a new one.

5. UNPLUG

Keep the TV, cellphone and computer/laptop out of the bedroom.

And also, as a general rule, you should refrain from using any of these devices 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This is because they stimulate your central nervous system with light and sound, which makes it more difficult to unwind.

Plus, some research also shows the electrical currents from these devices can alter sleep patterns.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 15 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at championfit@live.com or www.championfit.net.

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