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Sleep for a Healthy Weight

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Poor sleep patterns are linked with overweight and obesity

Have you gotten your bedtime routine in check yet?  In July we talked about how lack of sleep directly effects appetite and even food choices, and new research shows that those who don’t get enough zZ’s are prone to be overweight or obese and have other red flags when it comes to metabolic health.

The study published in PLOS One reviewed links between amount of sleep, diet and weight as well as other measurable markers including blood pressure, lipid profiles, glucose, thyroid function and waist circumference.  In addition to initial measurements and a lab workup, the 1,615 participants reported on sleep duration and kept a daily food diary, providing a snapshot for investigators to analyze.

Researchers from the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and the School of Food Science and Nutrition (West Yorkshire, England) found that adults who slept on average six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 1.2 inches (3cm) greater than those who slept nine hours each night.  And another thing, researchers noted that short sleepers had lower HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) levels.  HDL is also known as the “healthy” cholesterol.  One of its main functions is to absorb LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) or “lousy” cholesterol and sweep it away to be flushed from the body, a protective benefit against conditions like heart disease.  Not good news for our nocturnal friends. 

Having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep?  This may seem obvious, but be sure to omit any caffeine including coffee, tea and colas after 12 noon.  If that doesn’t work, you may want to try meditating or drinking a cup of herbal tea to help wind down.  According to The Sleep Foundation, a small snack, with a combo of carbohydrate and protein before bed can help make tryptophan more available to the brain, in turn, causing sleepiness– but it has to be small!  Anything more than 200 calories doesn’t qualify as a snack and can contribute to weight gain.  Need a bedtime snack idea? Try this Banana peanut spread on whole grain crackers or half an English muffin.

Published September 1, 2017

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