(CARLSBAD, CA) – Atkins, South Beach, Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers . . . you’ve tried them all. And nothing seems to help you shed those stubborn pounds. Your first instinct may be to log more hours on the treadmill. But, have you tried logging more ZZZzzzs? It sounds surprising, but sleep is actually an important component of any weight loss regimen.
Two recent studies, conducted at the University of Chicago in Illinois and Stanford University in California, have both determined that sleep is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight. In the Chicago study, the participants’ cravings for calorie-dense foods skyrocketed by 45% when they were deprived of sufficient sleep. And in the Stanford study, the participants who slept the least hours per night weighed the most.
Still skeptical about the connection between sleep and weight loss? Here’s how it works. Your body has two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which collaborate to control your appetite. Ghrelin is responsible for feelings of hunger. Leptin tells your brain when it’s time to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels decrease. That means that you’ll crave more foods and your brain won’t recognize when you’re full.
How much sleep do you need? It can vary from person to person. Sleep experts suggest that you go to bed at the same time every night and sleep as long as you wish for several consecutive nights (you may want to try this when you’re on vacation). After several nights, you’ll find that you are waking up after the same number of hours each night, within a range of 15-30 minutes.
Once you know how many hours of sleep you need each night, make a couple of lifestyle changes that support healthy sleep patterns.
Go to bed at the same time every night. Your body craves regular sleep patterns, and your sleep will be more satisfying if you set regular slumber habits.
Move during the day. Exercise at some point during the day to exhaust your muscles, which allows for a deeper sleep at night. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett recommends exercising at least two-three hours before bedtime, so that your endorphins have time to calm down before you hit the sack.
Set a relaxing bedtime routine. Try reading a magazine or taking a warm bath before you dive under the covers.
Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol within a few hours of bedtime. All of these substances can interfere with sleep.
Create an inviting sleep environment. Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature and block out as much light as possible.
Don’t lay restless for longer than 30 minutes. If you find yourself tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep, get out of bed and take up an activity in another room until you feel tired enough to go to sleep.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are still the cornerstones of weight control. So, don’t throw these habits out the window in the hopes that a few more hours of slumber will end your weight-loss woes forever. But, if you have your healthy diet and exercise regimen in place, why not log extra snooze time into your recipe for weight loss? It just may help you drop those last 10 pounds.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.