Got Belly Fat? Chances Are You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

In starlit nights I saw you...To some, this may seem counter indicated in that you are up more hours to burn extra calories. But this is not the case.

According to a article in 2010,

sleeping less than five hours per night (and more than eight hours) was associated with higher concentrations of belly fat during a five year study compared with participants who slept six to seven hours of sleep.

In another study of 18,000 people between the ages of 32 and 59, people were more likely to be obese the less sleep they had. People who got less than five hours of sleep were 50% more likely to be obese than those who were getting a full night’s rest. (National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey at the Mailman School of Public Health and the Obesity Research Center at Columbia, 1980.)

I know for myself, if I do not get enough sleep, I crave carbohydrates and other sweets. I often thought this was because my body needed extra fuel to get me through the day. But it is more than that.

This lack of sleep triggers the hormones that control our eating habits and metabolism and has an impact on a hormone called leptin, named after leptos, the Greek term for “thin.” Leptin levels normally rise when we sleep, but with lack of sleep they fall and signal to the body that there is a shortage of food, hence, a strong desire to eat more.

In a University of Chicago Study of 11 healthy 22 year old men going through periods of 4 hours of sleep a night, their leptin levels dropped 19% and their appetites surged with a desire for sweets, salty foods and starches.

A second hormone was identified in this study, by Eve Van Cauter, that being gherlin which is an appetite stimulant. Lack of sleep increases this hormone while decreasing leptin creating a perfect storm for obesity.

These studies show that the fat gained is the visceral fat, also known as belly fat, that surrounds the organs and increases health risks. This is due to the type of foods craved, as we said, carbohydrates and sweets.

 So what to do?

If you are like me, we can’t automatically push the sleep button and get a good night’s sleep.

  1. One of my favorite sleep tonics is a juice made with lettuce and apple and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Lettuce has sleep inducing ingredients. I like to juice romaine lettuce and apple for a relaxing drink before I sleep.
  2. Another way to get more sleep is to stop work, television, and action packed or suspenseful reading an hour before bed. If you need to read, switch to more inspirational reading. Even with something as gentle as a romance, you could get caught up in the suspense of when love will happen. Suspense and sleep do not bode well together.
  3. Lavender is conducive to relaxation and sleep. Spitz your pillow with lavender or melt some lavender oil or wax in a flameless heater to scent the air.
  4. Some people have good success with natural supplements such as melatonin or valerian. Do avoid artificial sleep aids since our goal is the healthiest, purist bodies we can create.
  5. Cool rooms promote sleep as does darkness.

Now that you see the link between lack of sleep and belly fat, it makes sense to honor our bodies by creating personal rituals that will help you sleep more than five hours (and less than eight) to improve your health and to actually help in losing weight. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.  ~Charlotte Brontë

What are your thoughts? Do you have a tip that might help others finally get to sleep?  Leave it in the comments area.

About Ann White

Ann White is the founder of Creating Calm Within Chaos, a rabbi and trauma chaplain. She teaches that we will always have chaos, but amid the chaos, the secret to a vibrant life is to create an inner sanctuary so that we can be the calm within chaotic situations.

She is the author of Living with Spirit Energy, The Sacred Art of Dog Walking - Making the Ordinary Extraordinary, and a contributor to the transformational anthology, Pebbles in the Pond.

She is also the host of BlogTalkRadio's Creating Calm and co-host of Authors on the Air.

Ann is a vegan and believes that eating real food contributes to removing chaos from our bodies and helps us to live glorious lives.

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