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Exercise and diet weren't the only pieces of the weight loss puzzle after all. Sleep deprivation, research now confirms, increases your risk of obesity. Learn why and what you can do about it.

It's clear that there is enough scientific evidence to prove that there is indeed a link between weight gain and sleep deprivation. On first sight, however, that link appears completely illogical. Are you wondering what on Earth would lead you to gain weight if you don't get enough sleep? Quite a lot of different factors play a role, as it happens. Let's take a peel.

Sleep Deprivation, Lack Of Energy, And Food

What do you do the morning after a really bad night's sleep? If you're a coffee drinker, you may chug down one mug after another, secretly wishing that you had a coffee IV instead. You'll also, however, instinctively crave those foods that will provide you with a quick energy boost that enables you to actually stay awake.

Whether energy drinks, pizza, donuts, or pasta are your personal vice, you'll definitely go for the things that are incidentally also known to promote weight gain.

This scenario plays out at a hormonal level: when you're sleepy, your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin go up, while your leptin levels dip. These altered hormone levels become a shining beacon that tells your brain to eat junk foods. In the longer term, as your so-called "sleep debt" builds up, your very metabolism could be altered by your unfavorable sleep pattern.

Who Wants To Exercise When They're Zonked Out?

Nuff said, really! Your body doesn't function nearly as well on insufficient sleep as it does when you are well-rested. When you're sleep deprived, you're more likely to use an elevator than take the stairs, more likely to get in your car than walk, and more likely to sit on the couch with some chips than you are to go to the gym. It does not take peer-reviewed studies to conclude that sleep deprivation leads to sedentary lifestyles,

Your Brain On Insufficient Sleep

A lack of sleep affects your ability to think and to concentrate, as we all know. Just like airport security workers who hadn't had enough shut-eye were significantly less able to detect high-risk items, as one study showed, the rest of us are less able to stop and think "hey, perhaps this donut isn't such a great idea after all". Sleep deprived people are also more likely to have a foul mood, and many use food to comfort themselves.

The Path To Better Sleep And A Flatter Tummy

To improve your sleep health, and indirectly, perhaps, your weight, try these tips:

  • Commit yourself to developing a predictable routine. Yes, that means going to bed at roughly the same time each night. Make sure you get those seven to nine hours of sleep, depending on how you have found you function best.
  • Begin winding down before going to bed. Get yourself in the mood for sleep by creating a bedtime ritual that includes such things as having a nice cup of warm milk, taking a shower, and reading a book. Keep stimulating things like alcohol, coffee, and internet use out of your life during the hours before you go to sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleep, sex, and other relaxing activities like reading novels (not tomorrow's work schedule!) and talking with your partner.
  • Exercise in the early evening to discharge your physical energy and relieve some of the stress you probably suffer from.
  • Can't sleep, despite having a healthy schedule? See your doctor about it!

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