Whilst many of the benefits of a good night’s sleep are obvious and quite straight forward there is one huge boon that many people do not associate with slumber. Sleep is primarily known for helping individuals achieve alertness and improving their cerebral workings yet it also provides benefits such as helping stave off illness and, surprisingly, maintaining or even losing weight.
One of the most recent pieces of academic research that looked into the correlation between sleep and weight was conducted and published by the British Medical Journey. The longitudinal study took 244 child participants and measured both the amount of sleep they had and their Body Mass Index (BMI). The aim of the study was to see if here was any link between the two and the findings seemed to suggest that there were indeed. One finding highlighted that children aged between three and seven who slept less than the recommended eleven hours per night were much more likely to be overweight than those who managed to do so. Additionally for every hour on top of the suggested eleven a child was able to gain decreased their chances of being overweight by nearly two thirds. A similar study from the Warwick Medical School found that thirty months old who did not sleep the suggested amount were 45% more likely to be obese at the age of seven than those who managed to gain the appropriate slumber.
Sleep’s affect on weight loss hormones
As the human body sleeps it releases a number of hormones. All of these hormones have different jobs aimed at restoring, fixing and managing the body. There are those, such as Melatonin, which have the goal of fixing broken cells and thus reducing the risk of cancer. Similarly there are hormones, primarily Leptin and Grehlin, which are used to help a body understand the amount of sustenance it needs and helping it regulate its dietary requirements. As these are released during slumber, if too little sleep is gained then the hormones will be released in insufficient quantities. This can result in the human body having a superficial appetite as the hormones which are used to suppress this have not been released to the appropriate degree. 8 hours sleep per night is the recommended amount to stave off these effects.
The correlation between sleep and exercise
One of the many benefits of sleep is the improvement it can deliver to exercise standards. Even better is the fact that this is a circular relationship. A study published in Sleep: Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine in 1997 found that individuals who engaged in exercise were able to improve all subjective levels of sleep quality whilst staving off the effects of depression. The circular part of this correlation comes from the fact that individuals who are able to gain an optimum amounts of sleep, helped by exercise, are able to undertake greater levels of exercise due to the increased energy levels that come with a good night’s slumber. This, in conjunction with hormones such as Leptin and Grehlin, helps an individual lose weight as many calories whilst be burnt by this additional exercise.
About the author
Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly on a number of topics including health, fitness and baby bedding.