If you, like so many Americans, are attempting to lose weight, you are undoubtedly focused on some important lifestyle changes. You’ve modified your diet and you are exercising, perhaps walking or working out in a gym. You may be reminding yourself to drink more water. But have you considered the vital role that sleep plays in weight loss?
No matter how consistent you are with your diet and exercise regimen, you are unlikely to achieve success unless you are getting ample sleep. Most people need eight hours a night, but that much sleep is often hard to get. Work, school, and the obligations of daily life make it difficult to fit every task into our waking hours, so we often push bedtime back two or three hours beyond the optimal time to retire. Add to that supermarkets that are open 24 hours a day, streaming video and the Internet, and few people actually get enough sleep.
Several recent studies highlight the beneficial effects of sufficient rest, including the effect on maintaining a healthy weight. Research published by the University of California-San Francisco, in the journal Sleep Medicine, studied the relationship between sleep duration in hours and weight gain and body mass index, or BMI. The study focused on Latino children, whom they followed for two years.
Participants in the study who regularly failed to sleep the 10 to 11 hours per night needed by 5- to 12-year-old children were statistically more apt to gain weight, as compared to children who got adequate sleep. These findings agree with the hypothesis of a number of larger studies that showed a correlation between too little sleep and an increased likelihood of obesity.
In addition, children who sleep too little exhibit a higher probability of developing obesity-related health conditions, greater likelihood of engaging in high-risk behavior like smoking and drinking, and poor performance in school. The study also highlighted the increased risk of obesity in the Latino population.
For adults and children, getting enough sleep is often a matter of developing a set routine for bedtime. Dim lights and lower the volume on music and television for the last hour before retiring. Don’t use personal electronics in the bedroom, and make sure the room is dark and comfortably cool. It’s an effort that will pay off in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.