Diet and exercise have their place, but one secret weapon in your weight-loss arsenal takes a lot less effort: getting enough sleep. Here's how catching those Z's helps shrink your waistline.
- It helps you eat less: Sleep affects levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin, which helps your body realize it's full, and ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Not getting adequate sleep lowers levels of leptin while raising levels of ghrelin, which can cause overeating when you're sleep-deprived. A recent study found that women who didn't sleep enough ate an average of 300 more calories than those who got adequate sleep.
- It reduces belly fat: Anxiety and stress are two major contributors to belly fat; getting enough sleep is one way to beat both.
- It may suppress fat genes: A recent study found that women who slept seven to nine hours a night weighed less than those who were sleep-deprived; researchers believe that those who slept fewer than seven hours a night (or, interestingly, more than nine) were more affected by any genetic predispositions to be overweight or obese.
- It gives you energy: If you've gotten a good night's rest, then you're more likely to have the energy to tackle your workout for the day. And, since exercise helps you sleep, revamping your sleeping habits can be the start of a beneficial cycle.