Sleep and Weight Loss

Studies have shown that getting enough rest is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. Are you getting enough sleep?

After giving birth to three kids in less than 5 years, I never had much time to sleep. Like most folks, I savor those nights when I can get 6 or 7 hours of shuteye. Now numerous studies tell us that getting our zzz’s also helps with our weight loss efforts.

The Studies

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that folks trying to shed at least 10 pounds were more likely to achieve their goal if they slept between 6 to 8 hours a night and had lower stress levels.

A 2004 study by the Stanford School of Medicine found that the less you sleep, the more weight you’ll gain. They found that not getting enough sleep leads to higher levels of appetite-stimulating hormones and lower levels of the hormones that tell us when we’re full. Furthermore, lack of sleep was associated with a higher body mass index (BMI).

There are also numerous theories that find sleepless nights can lead to weight gain. One theory says that when you’re tired, you become less physically active during the day which can lead to weight gain. A second theory says that when you’re sleep deprived you don’t care as much to make conscious food choices—which can lead you off your healthy eating plan.

Modeling Good Behavior

It’s not only about adults sleeping well. Modeling proper behavior to our children and enforcing proper bedtimes is important. Allowing kids to stay awake past their bedtimes in order to watch TV, play video games and raid the pantry can lead to terrible habits and result in weight problems.

Some important guidelines for parents to remember:
  • Turn off TV, video games and cell phones when it’s time for bed.
  • Create a routine about 30 minutes before bed to help soothe kids such as listening to quiet music, talking with them or reading.
  • Enforce bedtimes.
  • Model proper sleep behaviors to kids.
Bottom Line:

Getting enough shut ye is part of your overall healthy life. Adults should aim for 6 to 8 hours each night.

TELL US: Do you get enough sleep every night?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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