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Diet While You Sleep

Need to lose some weight and finding it hard? There’s an instant way to burn more calories that doesn’t deprive you of anything at all, except fatigue. During every hour you sleep, you burn 100 calories or more—while preserving muscle. And that’s not all. Here are other ways that regular, adequate sleep supports your efforts to take off extra pounds.

Diet decisions

The biggest struggle any dieter has is with cravings. Scientists say you’re much more vulnerable to caving in to unhealthy snacks or overeating when you’re short on sleep. Several studies of people participating in weight-loss programs that tracked sleep time have found that people who slept more than six (but not more than eight) hours per night during the programs lost more weight, more easily. Those who cheated themselves of a full night’s sleep had more trouble turning down junk foods or choosing when to stop eating.

The ghrelin gremlin

A hormone called leptin is responsible for making you feel full. When you skimp on sleep, your leptin levels drop. This leaves you more vulnerable to feeling artificially “hungry” when really, your stomach is satisfied. Meanwhile, another hormone, ghrelin—which stimulates appetite—goes up when you’re short on sleep. That’s a double diet whammy, hormone wise. These out-of-whack hormones always win, unless you regularly sleep well and for long enough. Then they remain in balance, which helps you stay more in control of your food choices and eating behavior.

Who feels like moving?

Not the sleep deprived, that’s for sure. When you’re chronically tired, given the choice between a nice brisk walk and another hour of TV, chances are much greater that you’ll simulate a sofa spud (while snacking). Adequate, regular sleep fuels you not just to survive, but to actually feel interested in thriving. In exercise, especially. It’s a lot easier to feel the spark of motivation and get moving before it winks out when you’ve had a good night’s rest. Not to mention that a well-exercised body is more ready to sleep at night.

losing calories while you sleep

Breaking the stress cycle

Stress comes from more sources than we can count: work, money issues, family problems, war, climate change, you name it. But there’s one source of personal stress that you can do a lot about—too little sleep. When you choose to defend your sleep as a critical, just-as-important-as-what-you-eat-or-don’t-eat priority, your stress levels drop. More sleep won’t cure every problem, but being well rested makes stressful situations or issues affect you less intensely. And that helps you yield less to “emotional eating.”

When your routine includes a good night’s sleep, you can more easily respond to stressful thoughts with a calming walk, meditation, or mindfully chopping veggies for a salad. Chronically tired? Processed and fattening foods offer short-term stress relief—at a price.

Setting the stage for sleep

In addition to a good bedtime routine, you can make going to sleep earlier a lot more enticing. Consider focusing on sensual comforts other than taste. For example, how about a fabulous bed that invites you to indulge in more sleep, just as sweet or fatty foods used to cue more eating?

Treat yourself to a comfortable natural mattress with luxurious organic bedding that greets your skin with soothing touch. Make your natural bedroom a peaceful, uncluttered sanctuary for rest. These are purely positive indulgences that can help smooth your path to a healthier metabolism and a better way of eating.

Soon, you’ll find that regular, restorative sleep is reinforcing all the other healthful choices you make. Sweet dreams!

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