Want to lose weight? Include getting enough sleep into your diet and exercise plan say the studies. Too many of us don’t get enough sleep, instead relying on (cups?, pots of?) coffee to get through the day. Lack of sleep causes lots of health problems: lower immunity (get sick easier), reduced ability to handle stress, decreased cognitive function, increased irritability – basically the body is too tired to function optimally. As Elizabeth Gilbert analogizes in Eat, Pray, Love (#22, p66) overworked soil needs a fallow season. Likewise the overworked body (which all of us stressed out Westerners have) needs rest. If we don’t get it, we eat more (esp. carbs and sugar) to get the energy our bodies need, and hence gain weight. Studies cited in this week’s NY Times, Science Times article show men eat up to 500 additional calories on 4-5hrs sleep than they do with 7-8 hours sleep.
Here’s a PubMed abstract of an analysis of a number of studies on the issue which suggests that 7 hours of sleep seems to be the golden mean. Less than 7 hours and weight gain appears, more than 7 hours sleep shows no significant weight change (positive or negative) compared to the 7 hour sleep duration:
Another study showed increased snacking of carbs with 5 1/2 hours sleep verses getting 8 hours:
Is it no wonder in our stressed out, sleep deprived, fast food society that we have an obesity epidemic? The solution is obvious and basic: reduce stress, stay well rested, eat well. Why does that seem like a radical concept for the average American to implement? KB
New York Times Article