1. The importance of a good night’s sleep on overall health and weight loss efforts cannot be underestimated. Humans have evolved over countless generations to sleep at least 8 hours each day as our body requires a daily rhythmic cycle involving sleep to perform many essential repair and maintenance functions. When this rhythm is disturbed by eating late at night or when we don’t sleep enough, hormonal balance is disturbed and fat is stored rather than burned during the nighttime hours.

    Sleep More to Burn More Fat

    The results of a study performed by the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates that a sound sleep of 7 to 8 hours helps to burn twice as much fat compared with 5 to 6 hours of sleep. The study participants were on a reduced calorie diet with a goal of losing weight by reducing body fat.

    In the normal sleep group, 55% of the weight loss was found to be body fat while only a quarter of the weight lost in the deprived sleep subjects was due to fat loss. In addition to a reduced calorie diet and regular exercise, you can compliment your weight loss efforts by making essential lifestyle changes that work in concert with your body’s natural rhythms.

    Sleep Controls Your Appetite Hormones

    Leptin and ghrelin are the hormones your body uses to switch the hunger sensation on or off. Ghrelin is secreted in the digestive tract to signal hunger, and leptin is produced in your fat cells and alerts the brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Insufficient sleep lowers levels of leptin so you don’t feel satisfied after eating and are much more apt to overeat. Poor sleep also raises ghrelin secretion, making you feel hungry upon waking.

    Inadequate sleep also causes leptin resistance, where the hormone is present but not effectively read by the brain and eating becomes uncontrolled. Leptin resistant people have been shown to increase their desire for calorie-laden, high carbohydrate foods by 45%. Studies confirm that 7 to 9 hours of sleep are required to keep our hunger hormones properly balanced and functional.

    Stop Eating 3 Hours Before Sleep

    We require about 3 hours to complete the initial stages of digestion after eating. During this time, our body expends a considerable amount of energy processing our food and extracting the nutrients and calories we need to live. The body is in a state of burning calories for energy and storing the excess for future use. We want our body to release fat to fuel our metabolic engine as we sleep, and this natural process is disrupted when eating too close to bedtime. Fat is stored instead of being burned as a result and weight loss efforts are diminished.

    We normally take sleep for granted and don’t think to consider how improper sleep patterns can affect our health and weight loss efforts. Restful sleep influences our appetite signaling hormones and has been shown to burn more stored fat during the overnight hours. In addition to a low calorie diet with healthy physical activity, a good night’s sleep should be a priority to drive your weight loss efforts.

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