Sleep Your Way to Weight Loss

Most weight-loss trends are useless.

Whether it's pills, a strict diet, or a crazy exercise regime, they're unlikely to lead to lasting weight loss.

In fact, we know from past history that some of these fads are life-threatening. (Take the once popular, now outlawed, weight loss pill fen-phen.)

If you're interested, you're not alone. Millions of Americans want to lose weight, but few successfully lose weight and keep it off.

But a new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition caught our attention... According to this study, you can sleep your way to weight loss.

Not getting enough good, quality sleep leads to a host of issues. It lowers your immune system, affects your glucose tolerance, and contributes to heart problems.

Sleep deprivation is an epidemic in the U.S. One in three Americans aren't getting enough sleep. And many people don't know how much sleep they should be getting.

Here's what you need, based on your age:

In addition to the list of problems that lack of sleeps causes, it also contributes to weight gain.

Part of the issue is that low amounts of sleep each night directly affect our "appetite hormones." If you get less than optimal sleep, your appetite increases... no matter how many calories you've eaten or even when you last ate.

On the other hand, if you don't eat enough, your brain dysfunctions and you suffer poor sleep because of these hormones.

The main culprit is leptin, known as our starvation hormone. Fat cells send this hormone to signal your brain. When you have enough leptin, your body knows you have enough energy from food. If leptin levels are low, your appetite kicks in and you want to eat. This physiologic hunger can lead to tossing and turning... or worse, it can wake you up in the middle of the night directing your brain to a midnight snack.

And we know that not getting enough sleep also triggers leptin to signal for more food, which leads to overeating.

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That's why this study is so critical. Researchers took a small group of "short-sleepers" (folks not getting at least seven hours a night) and gave them sleep counseling. They also had to log their sleep and eating patterns. Monitors attached to them at night also recorded when they fell asleep and how long they slept.

About half of the study group improved their sleep duration, and 14% of the group hit the seven to nine hours of recommended sleep.

Those who extended their sleep to the recommended amount ate 10% fewer sugars and carbs. Researchers believe even spending more time resting in bed helps curb those cravings.

Now, it's important to remember, this is a very small study... with only 21 participants. Normally we'd skip over a study this small, but the surprising drop in sugar and carb intake made us pause.

And it's important to remember that the study showed results in only one week... meaning that, over time, better sleep habits should keep your cravings in check. It adds on to previous research demonstrating how sleep affects our eating habits.

Adjusting your sleep patterns this year will help you lose weight better than any fad diet.

1) Cut back on caffeine. Stopping caffeine intake around lunchtime is a good rule of thumb, and one that I follow. Switch to decaf tea or water for your afternoon and evening.

2) Keep your room cool. Anywhere between 60 and 65 degrees is ideal for sleeping. Plus, it can save you money on your energy bill, as we mentioned in last week's Weekly Update video.

3) Make a routine and stick to it. If you keep to the same bedtime every night, your body will adjust and sleep better. Similarly, adding in a warm bath and shutting down electronics an hour before bed can also help you get better sleep.

We discussed the sleep-weight gain connection in an earlier issue of Retirement Millionaire. If you're already a subscriber, click here to read it. If you aren't yet a subscriber, sign up today and start receiving our empowering market insights and life-changing medical research right here.

What We're Reading...

  • Read the full American Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper right here.

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
January 16, 2018