From Insulite Laboratories’ Weekly Health Support Message
As if the health benefits that sleep brings were not enough motivation to get plenty of “shut-eye”, a good seven or eight hours every night could also help you avoid weight gain.
Researchers found that people who slept for less than six hours a night – or more than nine – put on more weight than those who slept for seven or eight hours each night.
The new study, published, appropriately enough, in the journal Sleep, found those who did not get enough sleep gained almost 4.4lbs compared to those who slept for the recommended number of hours over a period of six years.
Those who had too much sleep gained 3.5lbs more than those who slept for the recommended number of hours. Short-sleepers were 27% more likely to become obese and long sleepers were 21% more likely to take the same path than those who had an average night’s sleep.
The reason that the amount of sleep a person gets can govern their weight is because sleep affects hormone levels, especially those involved in appetite and feeling full after a meal.
Research leader Jean-Philippe Chaput, of Laval University in Quebec, Canada, said: “Our study provides evidence that both short and long-sleeping times predict an increased risk of future body weight and fat gain in adults.”
Sleep experts say the chances of getting a good night’s rest increase if you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even at weekends, and set a relaxing routine before getting into bed such as having a bath or reading.
Watching television in bed is not recommended and it is best to avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and exercise in the evening. If you have trouble getting to sleep, it is best to get up and do something relaxing like reading until you feel ready for sleep.
A regular exercise regime combined with a balanced, nutritious diet can improve sleep patterns and help reverse an underlying cause of excess weight and obesity, namely the imbalance of blood glucose and insulin called Insulin Resistance. By reversing this latter condition, you can facilitate weight loss.
If left unchecked, obesity can also lead to the cluster of increased risks for heart disease called Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X) as well as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a leading cause of menstrual irregularity and infertility, acne and other skin conditions, excess facial hair and female hair loss. Overweight women do not have a monopoly on PCOS, however. Up to 50% of PCOS sufferers may be females who are of normal weight or even lean.
Overweight men are at greater risk of prostate cancer. Insulin Resistance-linked weight problems are also associated in both sexes with Type 2 Diabetes. Before the onset of this latter condition, however, most people develop reversible Pre-Diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated beyond normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
If ignored, Pre-Diabetes may lead to the Type 2 variety, which can only be managed for the rest of a person’s life. Many Diabetics require daily injections of insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes severely increases the risk of blindness, amputation and kidney disease, as well as a heart attack or stroke. Some 90% of people with Type 2 also suffer from excess weight or obesity.