October 30, 2013 | by Gerard Burley
Sleep that gut away
sleeping, man, bed, gay news, Washington Blade

Getting enough sleep is an important component to overall wellness. (Photo by Bigstock)

So many of us are so busy with work, with home, and of course, so busy with that endless social calendar, that we forfeit the most important thing for our health — sleep.

Though we all know that we should be getting more shut eye, new studies are showing that getting less than seven-and-a-half hours of sleep a night can be affecting our waistlines.

Sleep affects much of the hormone production in our bodies, but specifically two hormones, ghrelin and leptin which are linked to weight gain. Think of ghrelin and leptin as our food traffic light hormones. Ghrelin is the green light or “go” hormone that tells us it’s time to eat, drink and be merry.

I believe many of you are familiar with him. Leptin, on the other hand, is our red light, or “stop” hormone, that lets us know that we are actually full and don’t need to finish the entire bag of potato chips.

If only that Ms. Leptin would come around more often. So what’s this have to do with your sleep time? Recent studies out of the University of California-Berkeley are showing that sleep deprivation actually increases the ghrelin and decreases the leptin in your body, sending you into an over eating frenzy throughout the day until you get back on a normal sleep schedule.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, studies out of the University of Colorado also showed that lack of sleep affects our brain activity, specifically on what foods we crave, and our ability to evaluate the consequences of eating them.

Simply put, sleep-deprived people choose fatty, high-calorie, junk foods over healthy foods. So that party at the club on a work night might sound great, but it comes at a price that your skinny jeans can’t handle.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are a few practical tips.

1. Cut off the caffeine — A cup of joe may get you going in the morning, but that afternoon cup could be keeping you up at night. After lunch time, switch to decaf or my favorite, green tea, which packs in a bunch of antioxidants without such a caffeine boost.

2. Eat small, nutritious, meals — What you eat affects your sleep. Bigger meals are harder to process affecting the quality of your sleep. Also simple carbohydrate and sugary meals spike your blood sugar at night making it harder to get to bed. I know we all are queens, but follow this mantra: eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a peasant.

3. You betta work out — Maintaining daily workouts helps to regulate hormone production and give you quality sleep. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of intense exercise per day.

The best time to train varies person to person, but be careful of working out right before bed because it may actually keep you awake.

Getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep is very important to maintaining a healthy weight. Try to hit the sheets earlier to help avoid some of those junk food cravings throughout the day. Overall, pay more attention to your sleep and more people will start paying attention to you.

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