A new study has shown that people who sleep for a longer time are more likely to have a healthy body mass index (BMI).
The study, from the American Thoracic Society’s 105th International Conference in San Diego, divided the subjects into short sleepers and long sleepers. The short sleepers had an average BMI of 28.3 while the long sleepers had a BMI of 24.5. Anything over 25 is considered overweight, and experts recommend that people get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
In the article “Sleep May Be Factor in Weight Control” from Science Daily, the lead investigator of the study, Dr. Arn Eliasson, suggests that lack of sleep may interfere with hormones, such as by reducing the amount of leptin in the body, which could increase appetite. He also suggests that stress may play a role in lack of sleep and in unhealthy eating patterns that lead to weight gain.
Here are some ways to improve the length and quality of sleep and, possibly, lose weight.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night and arise at the same time each morning. This allows the body to get into a natural rhythm of sleeping and waking.
- Remove televisions and computers from the bedroom. This helps because by removing distractions, the bedroom is associated only with sleep, not work or entertainment.
- Eliminate or reduce the caffeine in your diet, especially if you consume it later in the day. Coffee in the morning is fine but anything after that is not OK if you’re having trouble sleeping.
- Don’t eat a large meal too late in the evening. This can cause discomfort, and even digesting a normal meal eaten too late can interfere with sleep. On the other hand, a small, carbohydrate-rich snack right before bed can help you nod off.
- Get enough exercise. According the the Mayo Clinic, regular aerobic exercise can help you sleep at night. Just don’t exercise in the evening; this can give you an energy rush that makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- Deal properly with stress. Change stressful situations if you can; if not, try yoga, meditation, prayer or anything that helps you calm down so your mind isn’t racing when you’re in bed at night.
- Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep. Get up and quietly read or relax until you feel tired again. This prevents you from associating laying in bed with being awake.
- Try not to worry if you can’t sleep. Chances are, you’ll sleep better the next night. The more people worry about not being able to sleep, the less they are able to sleep. It becomes a vicious circle.
By following a few simple tips, people can increase the amount of sleep they get. And this study has shown that if they sleep more, they can not only feel better but also add some extra ammunition to their weight loss efforts.