7 Reasons Why Getting Enough Sleep May Help You Lose Weight
By Caroline Pullen
Unfortunately, many people aren't getting enough sleep. In fact, about 30 percent of adults are sleeping fewer than six hours most nights, according to a study of U.S. adults (1).
Interestingly, mounting evidence shows that sleep may be the missing factor for many people who are struggling to lose weight.
Here are seven reasons why getting enough sleep may help you lose weight.
Poor Sleep Is a Major Risk Factor for Weight Gain and Obesity
Poor sleep has repeatedly been linked to a higher body mass index (BMI) and weight gain (2).
People's sleep requirements vary, but, generally speaking, research has observed changes in weight when people get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night (3).
A major review found that short sleep duration increased the likelihood of obesity by 89 percent in children and 55 percent in adults (3).
Another study followed about 60,000 non-obese nurses for 16 years. At the end of the study, the nurses who slept five or fewer hours per night were 15 percent more likely to be obese than those who slept at least seven hours a night (4).
While these studies were all observational, weight gain has also been seen in experimental sleep deprivation studies.
One study allowed 16 adults just five hours of sleep per night for five nights. They gained an average of 1.8 pounds (0.82 kg) over the short course of this study (5).
Additionally, many sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, are worsened by weight gain.
It's a vicious cycle that can be hard to escape. Poor sleep can cause weight gain, which can cause sleep quality to decrease even further (6).
Summary: Studies have found that poor sleep is associated with weight gain and a higher likelihood of obesity in both adults and children.
Poor Sleep Can Increase Your Appetite
This is likely caused by the impact of sleep on two important hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin.
Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells. It suppresses hunger and signals fullness in the brain (7).
When you do not get adequate sleep, the body makes more ghrelin and less leptin, leaving you hungry and increasing your appetite.
A study of more than 1,000 people found that those who slept for short durations had 14.9 percent higher ghrelin levels and 15.5 percent lower leptin levels than those who got adequate sleep.
The short sleepers also had higher BMIs (7).
Summary: Poor sleep can increase appetite, likely due to its effect on hormones that signal hunger and fullness.
Sleep Helps You Fight Cravings and Make Healthy Choices
Lack of sleep actually alters the way your brain works. This may make it harder to make healthy choices and resist tempting foods (9).
Sleep deprivation will actually dull activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is in charge of decision-making and self-control (10).
In addition, it appears that the reward centers of the brain are more stimulated by food when you are sleep deprived (9).
Therefore, after a night of poor sleep, not only is that bowl of ice cream more rewarding, but you'll likely have a harder time practicing self-control.
A study of 12 men observed the effects of sleep deprivation on food intake.
When participants were only allowed four hours of sleep, their calorie intake increased by 22 percent, and their fat intake almost doubled, compared to when they were allowed eight hours of sleep (13).
Summary: Poor sleep can decrease your self-control and decision-making abilities and can increase the brain's reaction to food. Poor sleep has also been linked to increased intake of foods high in calories, fats and carbs.
Poor Sleep Can Increase Your Calorie Intake
People who get poor sleep tend to consume more calories.
A study of 12 men found that when participants were allowed only four hours of sleep, they ate an average of 559 more calories the following day, compared to when they were allowed eight hours (13).
This increase in calories may be due to increased appetite and poor food choices, as mentioned above.
However, it may also simply be from an increase in the time spent awake and available to eat. This is especially true when the time awake is spent being inactive, like watching television (14).
Furthermore, some studies on sleep deprivation have found that a large portion of the excess calories were consumed as snacks after dinner (5).
Poor sleep can also increase your calorie intake by affecting your ability to control your portion sizes.
This was demonstrated in a study on 16 men. Participants were either allowed to sleep for eight hours, or kept awake all night. In the morning, they completed a computer-based task where they had to select portion sizes of different foods.
The ones who stayed awake all night selected bigger portion sizes, reported they had increased hunger and had higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (15).
Summary: Poor sleep can increase your calorie intake by increasing late-night snacking, portion sizes and the time available to eat.
Poor Sleep May Decrease Your Resting Metabolism
Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories your body burns when you're completely at rest. It's affected by age, weight, height, sex and muscle mass.
Research indicates that sleep deprivation may lower your RMR (16).
In one study, 15 men were kept awake for 24 hours. Afterward, their RMR was 5 percent lower than after a normal night's rest, and their metabolic rate after eating was 20 percent lower (17).
It also seems that poor sleep can cause muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, so when muscle is lost, resting metabolic rates decrease.
One study put 10 overweight adults on a 14-day diet of moderate calorie restriction. Participants were allowed either 8.5 or 5.5 hours to sleep.
Both groups lost weight from both fat and muscle, but the ones who were given only 5.5 hours to sleep lost less weight from fat and more from muscle (19).
A 22-pound (10-kg) loss of muscle mass could lower your RMR by an estimated 100 calories per day (20).
Summary: Poor sleep may decrease your resting metabolic rate (RMR), although findings are mixed. One contributing factor seems to be that poor sleep may cause muscle loss.
Sleep Can Enhance Physical Activity
A lack of sleep can cause daytime fatigue, making you less likely and less motivated to exercise.
In addition, you're more likely to get tired earlier during physical activity (21).
A study done on 15 men found that when participants were sleep-deprived, the amount and intensity of their physical activity decreased (22).
The good news is that getting more sleep may help improve your athletic performance.
In one study, college basketball players were asked to spend 10 hours in bed each night for five to seven weeks. They became faster, their reaction times improved, their accuracy increased and their fatigue levels decreased (23).
Summary: Lack of sleep may decrease your exercise motivation, quantity and intensity. Getting more sleep may even help improve performance.
It Helps Prevent Insulin Resistance
Insulin is a hormone that moves sugar from the bloodstream into your body's cells to be used as energy.
When cells become insulin resistant, more sugar remains in the bloodstream and the body produces more insulin to compensate.
The excess insulin makes you hungrier and tells the body to store more calories as fat. Insulin resistance is a precursor for both type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
In one study, 11 men were allowed only four hours of sleep for six nights. After this, their bodies' ability to lower blood sugar levels decreased by 40 percent (25).
This suggests that only a few nights of poor sleep can cause cells to become insulin resistant.
Summary: Just a few days of poor sleep can cause insulin resistance that is a precursor to both weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
The Bottom Line
Along with eating right and exercising, getting quality sleep is an important part of weight maintenance.
Poor sleep dramatically alters the way the body responds to food.
For starters, your appetite increases and you are less likely to resist temptations and control portions.
To make matters worse, it can become a vicious cycle. The less you sleep, the more weight you gain, and the more weight you gain, the harder it is to sleep.
On the flip side, establishing healthy sleep habits can help your body maintain a healthy weight.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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By Jeff Berardelli
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International Effort to Evaluate Climate Models<p>For the past 25 years the international community has been evaluating and comparing the world's most sophisticated climate models produced by various teams at universities, research centers, and government agencies. The effort is organized by the World Climate Research Programme under the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.</p><p>Climate models are complicated computer programs composed of millions of lines of code that calculate the physical properties and interactions between the main climate forces like the atmosphere, oceans, and solar input. But models also go a lot further, incorporating other systems like ice sheets, forests, and the biosphere, to name a few. The models are then used to simulate the real-world climate system and project how certain changes, like added pollution or land-use changes, will alter the climate.</p><p>Every few years there is a new comprehensive international evaluation called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). In the sixth such effort, known as CMIP6 and now under way, experts are reviewing about 100 models.</p><p>Information gleaned from this effort will act as a scientific foundation for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next major assessment report, scheduled for release in 2021. The goal of the report – the sixth in 30 years – is to inform the international community about how much the climate has changed, and, importantly, how much change can be expected in coming decades.</p>
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In the above CarbonBrief interactive visualization, the bars offer a comparison in the range of sensitivity in the CMIP5 models (gray) and CMIP6 models (blue).
New and Encouraging Evidence Is Emerging<p>At first, scientists were uncertain whether the new model runs were on to something, so the international modeling community dug in to produce multiple studies. The results are not yet conclusive, but a gradual collective sigh of relief seems to be materializing.</p><p>"Evidence is emerging from multiple directions that the models which show the greatest warming in the CMIP6 ensemble are likely too warm," explains Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2020-23/" target="_blank">a study</a> released April 28 evaluated the past performance of the models making up the CMIP6 ensemble. The team assigned weights to each model based upon historical performance of their warming projections, weighing the poorer performing models less. By doing so, both the mean warming and the range of warming scenarios in the CMIP6 ensemble decreased, meaning the warmest models were the ones with weaker historical performance. This result supports a finding that a subset of the models are too warm.</p><p>That conclusion is supported by another new study evaluating one particular model – the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) – that showed greater warming. Using that model, the researchers simulated the climate in the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago, when rainforests thrived in the Arctic and Antarctic. The CESM2 simulated a historical climate that seems way too warm compared with what is known about that era from geological data, indicating that the model is likely also too warm in its future projections.</p><p>Two other recent studies of the CMIP6 models being evaluated use clever analysis methods to <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2019-86/&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNHYwFB-1KqndGfJ4sXdrrm9DpbLaQ" target="_blank">narrow the range</a> of future warming projections and also <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz9549&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNEhKY1YZ19qgjSZ_hJM14JmzqXOXw" target="_blank">reduce the projected warming</a> of the CMIP6 models by 10 to 15%.</p><p>Through the intensive research spurred by the CMIP6 climate-sensitivity curveball, scientists have been able to turn a confounding challenge into a confidence builder, providing even greater certainty than they had before in both the abilities of the climate science community and in the computer models used. Moreover, the experience has helped unearth uncertainties remaining in the modeling process.</p><p>Experts conclude much of this uncertainty probably lies in the complexity of clouds. "We have been looking as a community at why the models with greater warming are doing what they are doing – and it's tied to cloud feedbacks in the southern mid-latitudes mostly," explains Schmidt.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/26/eaba1981" target="_blank">a new study</a> addressing the increased sensitivity was published in Science Advances stating, "Cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions are the most likely contributors to the high values and increased range of ECS [sensitivity] in CMIP6."</p>
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Investigating the Secrets of Clouds<p>To address the urgent question about the dynamics and role of clouds in a warming world, NOAA and European partners launched their ongoing research effort unprecedented in scale. The U.S. contribution, ATOMIC – short for Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign – is an international science mission that was featured recently on "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/study-aims-to-examine-links-between-climate-change-and-clouds/" target="_blank">CBS This Morning: Saturday</a>."</p>
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