Tossing, turning, waking up multiple times each night, not being able to fall asleep, aches and pains that keep you awake… Whatever the cause of the problem, many of us today are living with a sleep debt.
What do I mean by that?
Put simply a sleep debt is when you don’t get enough sleep — for example, you should get eight hours, but you only get six, leaving you with a sleep debt of two hours.
And, while most of us are familiar with the way it makes us feel, from an inability to concentrate to grogginess and even lightheadedness, there’s one big danger of not getting enough sleep that you may not have even realized you were facing…
Yes, those extra pounds around your hips, thighs and middle could be just as much to blame on a lack of zzz’s as they are on that extra bowl of ice cream or package of chips.
Here’s what you need to know…
Why do sleep and weight impact each other
Previous research had shown that chronic sleep loss and even shift work (you know, those jobs that make you work at night and sleep during the day) increase the risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. They’ve also shown that disrupted sleep could lead to weight gain and decreasing muscle mass. But they really weren’t sure why.
That’s no longer the case since researchers at Uppsala University set out to answer the question and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the link between lack of sleep and weight gain.
They studied normal-weight individuals, following a night of good sleep (over eight hours) and a night of no sleep. The morning after each night, they took biopsies of the participants’ fat and muscle tissue — two tissues that show metabolism problems once you become obese or diabetic.
And, guess what?
They found that after a single night without the proper amount of rest, the metabolism in your fat cells is already in trouble — leaving you unable to burn fat and instead store it (yup – here comes those saddle bags, bat wings or beer belly).
And, now the scientists even know why…
You see, those biopsies revealed exactly how a sleep debt destroys your metabolism.
The answer lies in a process known as methylation.
Basically, methylation is when one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms are transferred from one substance to another in your body. When it happens correctly, your body is able to create energy, get rid of toxins, repair your DNA and yes, burn fat.
But, when something goes wrong, all of that stops.
And, as it turns out, lack of sleep is one of those things that can go wrong.
Sleep hacks to rest better
So, how then do you get more sleep in order to ensure that methylation process keeps running and your metabolism keeps chugging along?
Here are six ways to improve your sleep so that you get more rest:
- Nix the screens – Computer screens, televisions, tablets and smartphones all put off unhealthy blue light that can keep you up for hours longer than you planned. Ban the screens from your bedroom and turn them off at least two hours prior to sleep time to ensure better rest.
- Limit liquids – If nighttime bathroom trips are what’s keeping you up, stop fluids two to three hours before bedtime so that your bladder will let you sleep.
- Spend more time outdoors – Sunlight, especially morning light, helps to reset your body’s natural sleep-wake clock.
- Exercise – Get in regular physical activity and you’ll find that by evening, you’re ready to hit the sheets. But, be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime or it could have the opposite effect.
- Get rid of poor sleep triggers – Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten and even dairy can cause sleep problems, especially if you’re sensitive to them. Limit your intake and see how much better your sleep is.
A sleep debt can result in more than just a difficult day when you wake up… It can ruin your metabolism and leave you overweight and unhappy. Boost your fat metabolism and accelerate weight loss and keep it off by using the sleep hacks above to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Editor’s note: You can attain your best health ever without extreme diets, dangerous pills or brutal workouts. And without any confusion about what you should eat! Getting the health and the body you want is all made simple in The Part-Time Health Nut. Click here for a preview…
- How sleep loss may contribute to adverse weight gain — Uppsala University
- Tips A to Zzzzz on getting better sleep — Easy Health Options