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Sleep Yourself Thinner: How rest aids weight loss

Posted in Personal Health 23 Aug, 2012

The saying goes, if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it right. Given that we spend roughly one third of our entire lives asleep, it makes sense that we should take care to maintain good sleeping habits.

As well as helping us to feel rested, sufficient sleep brings with it a wide range of other health benefits. From making us less susceptible to mental conditions such as depression, to boosting our memories and helping lower our blood pressure, by allowing our bodies to recharge properly at the end of the day, we can really improve our well being.

Of course, for a lot of people, such considerations will not be enough persuade them to rearrange their lifestyle around their body clock, which, in today’s 24/7 culture is often seen as a biological inconvenience. Luckily, the fact that sleep is a highly effective weight loss tool carries a lot of currency. Here’s a look at some of the ways sleep can help you shift a few pounds.


If you feel fatigued from the moment you wake up then it’s unlikely you’re going to be in the mood to exert yourself much during the day. This is bad news for your exercise plan.

Not spending long enough in the REM stage of sleep ups the levels of lactates in our blood. This is the same process as occurs when you’re working out. Indeed, it’s what eventually makes you feel too fatigued to go on. In effect, this means that skimping on your sleep will make you feel as just as if you’ve hit the gym, but without any of the associated benefits. Not a great combination.

The sleep/exercise relationship works both ways. If you do exercise, you are likely to sleep better and enjoy a greater proportion of your night in ‘deep sleep’ mode, during which time muscle recovery and the release of growth hormones takes place. As a result, you’ll be in better shape to go out and exercise the next day, and so on.


Our hunger levels are regulated by two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which work in tandem to tell us when we need to eat and when we’re full, respectively. As you can imagine, an imbalance in these two hormones can be catastrophic. For example, some people are born without the ability to produce leptin in the required quantities and, as a result, suffer from constant hunger.

Whilst a lack of sleep won’t create such drastic conditions, it will lead you to create more ghrelin than leptin, which will lead to unncessary bouts of binge eating and make sticking to a diet very difficult.


Having a slow metabolism can make losing weight tough. If you’re frequently burning the midnight oil, you’re only going to make things harder, as lack of sleep reduces your bodies ability to metabolise carbs. This will lead to higher blood sugar levels, more insulin and, consequently, more body fat.

However well or badly you eat, making sure you sleep well will give your body a helping hand in dealing with what you feed it.

Will Kurtz writes on a wide range of health issues pertaining to weight loss, from diet and nutrition, to exercise plans. You can read more at

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