by Terry Goodman
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard somebody, whether it’s your friend, family member or someone on television, say, “I’ll sleep when I die!” They’re usually very proud of the notion that they can get by on little or no sleep. That they’re superhuman and sleep is for babies! Well, I’m telling you, sleep is not overrated. Not in the least. In fact, if anything, it’s probably too underrated. How does sleep deprivation affect quick weight loss?
When you don’t get enough sleep, sleep experts recommend an average of seven-and-a-half hours per night, it’s very tough on your goal to lose weight fast. When you sleep, your body produces certain hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us when we’re hungry, to eat. Leptin, on the other hand, tells us when we’ve had enough to eat, to stop. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces less leptin, but more ghrelin! See where this is going?
Lack of sleep also causes your metabolism to slow, so you’re not burning your food as efficiently as if your were getting the proper amount of rest. Since you have more ghrelin, you’re hungrier more often, so you eat more. Since your metabolism is slower, you’ll probably be more apt to “blow off” the gym. You’re just too tired. So you go home and grab a cup of coffee. This may make you feel alert for an hour or two, or it might just make you jittery. That’s what coffee does to me if I’m too exhausted.
When you get into the habit of getting too little sleep, you stay in that habit, because, let’s face it, we’re all creatures of habit. And lack of sleep accumulates. There’s an old wive’s tale that says you can’t catch up on sleep, but that’s wrong. Sleep is when we heal and our body produces much-needed chemicals and hormones, that keep our bodies running at peak efficiency while we’re awake. That’s why people who are injured or sick need so much sleep, to heal.
It’s probably more difficult for people to get the proper amount of sleep now, more than ever, because of all the distractions and entertainment options we have. Years ago, when the sun went down, you had little choice but to go to bed or read a book by candle light. Now, there’s Facebook and Twitter and Angry Birds and on and on to keep us occupied in a zombie-like trance when we should be sleeping.
I find it best to turn off the computer, television and all other electronic “distractions” off at least an hour or two before I need to go to bed in order to get a full night’s sleep. It’s actually a very nice time. It’s quiet and I get things done, like ironing clothes and simple tasks which help me wind down so that when I do go to bed, I get to sleep immediately.
I’ve noticed that during the times in my life when I didn’t get enough sleep, not only did I feel irritable and like I was living in a fog, but I gained weight much faster, even if I ate less food. So the next time someone says to you, “I’ll sleep when I die!” You can say to them, “That may be sooner than you think if you don’t sleep.” Or something perhaps not quite so harsh. You can be the judge of that!
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