How much sleep is optimal for weight loss? Between seven and nine hours a night is best. Less than seven hours increases the risk of obesity approximately 30 percent and adds an extra five pounds on average.
According to Jean-Philippe Chaput, M.Sc., from Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, and colleagues, current treatments for obesity have been largely unsuccessful in maintaining long-term weight loss, suggesting the need for new insight into the mechanisms that result in altered metabolism and behavior and may lead to obesity, HUFFPOST HEALTH reported.
The increase in body weight in the U.S. population has been paralleled by a reduction in sleep times. For the past four decades, daily sleep duration has decreased by one and a half to two hours, and the proportion of young adults sleeping less than seven hours per night has more than doubled, from 15.6 percent in 1960 to 37.1 percent in 2002.
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem for physical and mental health reasons even when it is mild, according to Dr. Anthony Goodman in The Great Courses course Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age.
Sleep deprivation is prevalent in all age categories from late teens to the elderly.
The National Sleep Foundation reported that 67 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived. Some 40 percent of Americans sleep less than 7 hours a night and 70 percent sleep less than 8 hours.
College students who have been carefully tested showed that even the slightest decrease in the amount of sleep caused major deficits in their memory and test performance.
Sleep deprivation is linked to the following maladies:
– high blood pressure
– heart disease
– erratic blood glucose levels.
On the positive side, increases in test scores were found with only slight increases in sleep. It is better than more time spent studying. Late night pre-exam cramming definitely lowered test scores compared with a good night’s sleep.
HUFFPOST HEALTH reported that to determine the relationship between sleep duration and weight, researchers followed 276 adults aged 21 to 64 who were enrolled in the Quebec Family Study, a six-year study in a community setting. The investigators compared weight gain relative to three categories of sleep duration ― short (5-6 hours), average (7-8 hours), and long (9-10 hours).
Compared with average-duration sleepers, short-duration sleepers gained 4.4 pounds more in a six year period. At six years, short-duration and long-duration sleepers were 35 percent and 25 percent more likely to experience a 12 pound weight gain, respectively, compared to those who slept seven to eight hours a night.
Compared with average-duration sleepers, short-duration sleepers had a 27 percent increased risk for the development of obesity, and long-duration sleepers had a 21 percent increase in risk. Adjustment for caloric intake and physical activity did not affect these connections.
WebMD says, it starts out innocently enough. “When you have sleep deprivation and are running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods,” says Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
The immediate result? You may be able to fight off sleepiness. The ultimate result? Unwanted pounds as poor food choices coupled with lack of exercise set the stage for obesity and further sleep loss.
“Sleep debt is like credit card debt,” Zafarlotfi says. “If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.”
Not getting enough sleep is common — even talked about with pride — in the U.S. “We brag about an all-nighter, but we do pay a price for staying up late and getting up early,” says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County.
“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona.
What if you are getting enough hours of sleep but wake up and feel sleepy the next day? “Talk to your doctor about seeing a sleep specialist,” Breus says. After conducting a thorough evaluation and sleep study, in which you are monitored while sleeping, the sleep specialist can help identify any underlying problem. Together you can develop a treatment plan so that you get more high-quality sleep — and maybe even slim down, WebMD reported.
Dr. Goodman offered the following Sleep Hygiene Hints:
*Turn off all lights
*Room temps should be on the cool side
*Avoid late night meals – they upregulate metabolism at the wrong time
*Avoid caffeine late in the day
*Light snack an hour before bed is okay. Keep a reasonable balance – carb/protein/fat
*Avoid too many liquids
*Avoid alcohol – interferes with quality of sleep,
*Increasing hours spent in natural sunlight may help in balancing the sleep hormone toward a favorable balance for nightfall. This is better than supplements. Also, exercise promotes good sleep as long as it is done several hours ahead of bedtime.
Finally, if unable to sleep because you are stressing about your job, boss, girl/boyfriend, the high price of gasoline, you name it, check out our item on the power and benefits of relaxation here.