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Nutrition Column

Sleeping more than 7 hours may be a key to successful weight loss

Inadequate sleep plays a key role in your risk of being heavy and how much you eat.

How much you sleep may impact your body weight, your appetite, and your ability to lose weight.

Not getting enough sleep causes changes in hormones which control not only your appetite but also the foods you crave and your body metabolism. The results from over 1000 subjects in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found significantly lower leptin, higher ghrelin and higher BMI measures in sleep-deprived subjects. Both leptin and ghrelin regulate appetite, the types of foods you eat, and the size of your fat cells. Subjects who slept five hours per night were significantly heavier and more likely to be obese than those who slept eight hours per night.

In normal weight people leptin controls how much fat and calories taken in. When leptin levels are high people stop eating and take in less fat. The opposite is true for ghrelin, with higher levels being associated with increased appetite. Getting adequate sleep promotes an environment conducive to health and weight management.

Another study published in the journal Sleep determined that seven hours is a critical breakpoint in the relationship between sleep and obesity. In a ten-year follow up study of 9588 subjects, those who slept under seven hours were significantly heavier and more likely to be obese than those who slept more than seven hours each night. The conclusion seen from numerous studies points to a link between too little sleep and body weight. The less a person sleeps, particularly less than seven hours of sleep, the more likely the person is to have significantly higher levels of body fat and a heavier body weight.

The amount of sleep you get each night plays a key role with hormonal levels related to appetite, fat cell metabolism, and the internal signals you get for what to eat and how much to eat. The more sleep you get the easier it will be to maintain a healthier body weight. So for more than just a restful night make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 12.10.05