Could sleep be making you fat?

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Sleep and weight management: Can too much or too little sleep influence weight gain or loss?

Sleeping too little or too much can make you fat! Its true. Read on to find out three reasons why this is so.

Too little sleep is considered anything less than 7.5 hours per night. Sleeping less may make you think that you would burn more energy and lose weight but the converse is actually true. Here is why.

1. The more time you spend awake, the more likely you are to eat more.

2. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep burns the most calories. The less sleep cycles you complete the less REM sleep you have. So sleeping 7.5 hours burns more calories than sleeping 5 hours does.

3. The day after too little sleep will see your metabolism slowing down. This causes a hormonal response. Grehlin levels rise causing an increased appetite. Cortisone levels also rise causing cravings for high sugar and high fat foods. Now you are not only eating more, but eating more of the foods that make you fat. At the same time Leptin levels decrease which means no matter what you eat that day you will battle to feel full.

Your energy output is reduced and energy input is increased. In simple terms? Sleeping too little sets your body up for storing fat.

Anything exceeding 9 hours per night is overdoing it and will make you gain weight. Here are the reasons why.

1. Oversleeping is often connected to an unhealthy lifestyle. Oversleepers are less likely to exercise and more likely to abuse alcohol and over the counter medications.

2. Oversleepers tend to go to bed late and wake late. This cuts down on the health benefits of an early bedtime. It seems our bodies are made to sleep when it is dark and rise when it is light. Not following this natural sleep pattern increases your chance of developing diabetes and heart disease. Unstable sugar levels = unstable energy levels and an unhealthy heart = a tough time staying fit.

3. Long-term, too much sleep decreases Seretonin levels leading to a foggy memory and feelings of anxiety and depression. A vicious cycle is set up, where the more you oversleep, the more you want to sleep.

As always, we aim for balance. Not too much, not too little, but just enough.

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