Monday, June 18, 2012
You know the dreaded feeling: It’s 7 a.m., and you’re exhausted from a bad night’s sleep. All you can think of is how to sleep more instead of getting up. From time to time, everyone experiences interrupted sleep, making us feel like we’re trudging through quicksand the next day.
But did you know that a regular lack of sleep may also cause you put on weight? In one study published in the Australian Journal of Medicine last year, researchers studied 14,000 men and women who checked into a NSW sleep clinic in Newcastle between 1987 and 2007, citing sleep troubles. On average, the participants had put on weight since their problems began -- some as much as 12 kilograms!
Why Less Sleep Adds More Kilos
While it’s still not clear what the link is between lack of sleep and subsequent weight gain, there are several theories. When you’re not well-rested, your metabolism slows down, which reduces energy for digestion. Hormones ghrelin and leptin -- important for the regulation of appetite -- may also be disrupted, causing you to feel hungrier. And in general, if you sleep less, you’ll probably have less energy when you’re awake, meaning you’ll burn fewer kilojoules.
How to Sleep More
Most people need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night to feel rested and reap the health benefits. And benefits include stress reduction (which keeps blood pressure low and therefore keeps your heart healthier), a boost in memory powers, and less inflammation in the body (which helps eliminate the threat of diseases such as diabetes and cancer).
To keep the kilos off and rejuvenate your body, get snoozing with these tips:
1. Go to bed at the same time each night -- particularly before midnight, as this is when better-quality sleep occurs.
2. Make your bedroom dark and quiet.
3. Get into a routine. Have a hot bath or a cup of tea before going to sleep.
4. Ease off the coffee, especially after 4 p.m.
5. Aim to take a short walk each day. It will make your body feel more tired at night, and you’ll be more likely to sleep faster.
Fleur Michell is the managing editor of Oral Care and Health Daily (Australia & New Zealand). She has written numerous health articles for such national publications as New Idea, Take 5, Cosmopolitan Pregnancy, Diabetic Living and The Sunday Telegraph’s Body+Soul.