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Getting Enough Sleep: Is it One of the Best Ways to Burn Fat?

By Rob Poulos...

Chances are you’ve dreamed about how you’d look when you finally get skinny–those flat washboard abs, sculpted thighs, and biceps that few people can attain.  But according to a few new studies, that’s exactly what you need to do to burn fat: Dream on.

As crazy as this sounds, research says dreaming–a.k.a. getting a good night’s worth of sleep–can have profound effects on our hunger levels, namely the hormones that control appetite stimulation.  Called ghrelin and leptin, both hormones act as a balancing system, changing how hungry we feel based on how much sleep we get.

If you get enough sleep, hunger levels lower.  But should you pull an all-nighter, your hunger levels skyrocket–and people who chronically skip sleep usually weigh more.

The Research Behind Sleep for Weight Loss

Claims of sleep improving weight loss come from a few studies, conducted by researchers from The University of Chicago and Stanford University.  Researchers wanted to see how sleep deprivation affected a person’s appetite–and the results were astonishing.

For the University of Chicago study, researchers instructed 12 men to get less sleep than usual, all while they monitored their hormone levels and appetite.  When they received enough sleep, their appetite levels were normal.  However, when they got less sleep than usual, the findings really started to get interesting–their leptin levels dropped while their ghrelin levels increased, sending their appetites skyrocketing.  They also began craving more calorie dense foods.

In the Stanford University Study, bigger correlations were drawn.  After polling 1,000 people about the hours of sleep they got each night, researchers measured their hormone levels, as well as their current weight.  After compiling the data, researchers found that those who slept less had higher levels of body fat and higher ghrelin levels.  In fact, those who slept the least weighed the most–a link that is hard to deny.

Is Sleep One of the Best Ways to Burn Fat?

Although missing a day or two of quality sleep probably won’t make you obese, the correlations are hard to deny: Not getting adequate sleep can make your ghrelin levels skyrocket, which can make your hungrier.  For a slimmer bod, sleeping more is key to keep these ghrelin levels low.

But what if you’re struggling to get enough sleep?  If you find it hard to get your 8 hours of sleep every night, here are some ways to speed up the process:

– Limit your intake of caffeine.  Caffeine is a good insomnia trigger, and its effects can last well into the night, even if your last drink was in the afternoon.  Your strategy: Limit caffeine use to the morning to allow its effects to wear off by the evening.  You’ll find it easier to get to sleep, as well as get good quality sleep.

– Do something relaxing at the end of the day.  A warm bath, a massage, or meditation are all great ways to calm the body down and prepare it for sleep.  So too are quiet activities, such as reading a book.

If sleep is still truly difficult, then it may be time to see a doctor–sleep disorders are extremely common, but serious.

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