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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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Masters
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America's infrastructure a C- grade in its quadrennial assessment issued March 3. ASCE gave the nation's flood control infrastructure – dams and levees – a D grade. This is a highly concerning assessment, given that climate change is increasingly stressing dams and levees as increased evaporation from the oceans drives heavier precipitation events.
Figure 1. Debris fills the Feather River from the damaged spillway of California's Oroville Dam, the nation's tallest dam, after its near-collapse in February 2017. The Oroville incident forced the evacuation of nearly 190,000 people and cost $1.1 billion in repairs. California Department of Water Resources
Figure 2. The L-550 levee on the Missouri River overtopping during the spring 2011 floods. USACE
By Jacob Carter
On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it will be rescinding secretarial order 3369, which sidelined scientific research and its use in the agency's decisions. Put in place by the previous administration, the secretarial order restricted decisionmakers at the DOI from using scientific studies that did not make all data publicly available.
Science Rising at Interior<p>The rescinded secretarial order is not the only notable victory we have seen from the DOI recently. The Biden administration has moved swiftly to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/climate/biden-interior-department-haaland.html" target="_blank">restore consideration of climate change</a> in its decisions, <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/biden-expected-to-reverse-trump-order-to-shrink-utah-national-monuments" target="_blank">reverse assaults on our public lands</a>, and <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/biden-halts-trump-rule-gutted-landmark-bird-protection-law" target="_blank">taken actions to protect our nation's wildlife</a>. These decisions, unlike many made at the DOI over the past four years, have been informed by science—and President Biden's pick to lead the DOI, Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, has <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/22/politics/haaland-confirmation-remarks/index.html" target="_blank">promised in her confirmation hearing</a> to continue to make decisions that are guided by science.</p><p><strong>Saving Migratory Birds</strong></p><p>One of the parting gifts of the prior administration was a <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/jacob-carter/outgoing-administration-gave-thumbs-up-to-migratory-bird-massacre-its-time-to-reverse-the-damage" target="_blank">reinterpretation of a long-standing rule that protected migratory bird species</a>. For decades, the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/birds/policies-and-regulations/laws-legislations/migratory-bird-treaty-act.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Migratory Bird Treaty Act</a> (MBTA) had protected migratory bird species, which are in decline in the US, by allowing the DOI to fine industries that failed to take proper precautions to protect migratory birds. For example, <a href="https://www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/threats-to-birds/entrapment-entanglement-drowning.php#:~:text=An%20estimated%20500%2C000%20to%201,trays%2C%20and%201%25%20spills." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">not placing proper netting over oil pits</a>, which can result in the death of migratory birds. The rule, however, was reinterpreted by the prior administration such that industries could only be fined if bird deaths were "intentional" and not if they occurred incidentally due to a lack of precautions.</p><p>The prior administration, in its final days, also <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/03/endangered-species-recovery-interior-deb-haaland/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eliminated protections for the northern spotted owl</a>, which is currently listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a threatened species. More than 3 million acres of the owl's habitat were removed from protection to pave way for timber harvesting. Susan Jane Brown, a staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/climate/biden-interior-department-haaland.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stated that she had received</a> "…several calls from wildlife biologists who are in tears who said, 'Did you know this is happening? The bird won't survive this."</p><p>The Biden administration, following the best available science, has delayed the implementation of both rules.</p><p><strong>Restoring Public Lands</strong></p><p>In 2017, two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante of Utah, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/us/trump-bears-ears.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">were reduced in size by some two million acres</a>, the largest reduction of federal land protection in our nation's history. Later, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/02/climate/bears-ears-national-monument.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">internal emails at the DOI</a> would show that these actions were not a product of following the best available science, and were instead guided by a push to exploit oil and natural gas deposits within the boundaries of the protected land. In particular, the decision did not consider the archaeological importance of the protected lands or their cultural heritage. Sidelining these facets of this decision is likely what <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/02/biden-orders-review-of-trumps-assaults-on-americas-natural-treasures/?utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=naytev&utm_medium=social" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">prompted a review of the reductions</a> by the Biden administration.</p>
Bringing Science Back Across the Administration<p>Beyond the Interior department, the Biden administration has taken quick steps to bring science back to the forefront of decisionmaking across the federal government. In January, President Biden signed a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/memorandum-on-restoring-trust-in-government-through-scientific-integrity-and-evidence-based-policymaking/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">presidential memo</a> to strengthen scientific integrity and evidence-based decisionmaking. The memo, among many other positive steps for science, has initiated a review process on scientific integrity policies that should be finalized toward the end of the year. Given the <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">unprecedented number of times we documented political interference in science-based decision-making processes</a> over the past four years, such a review, and the subsequent recommendations arising from it, are clearly warranted.</p><p>The Biden administration also has formed multiple scientific advisory groups to help make choices informed by the best available science to protect public health and our environment. This includes advisory groups on critical issues such as <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/memorandum-on-restoring-trust-in-government-through-scientific-integrity-and-evidence-based-policymaking/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">scientific integrity</a>, <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2021/02/10/president-biden-announces-members-of-the-biden-harris-administration-covid-19-health-equity-task-force/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">COVID-19</a>, and <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/reports/2021/02/04/495397/mapping-environmental-justice-biden-harris-administration/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">environmental justice</a>. The administration also is moving quickly to <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/biden-transition-updates/2020/12/17/938092644/biden-to-pick-north-carolina-regulator-michael-regan-to-lead-epa" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appoint qualified leaders</a> at science-based agencies and has asked the heads of agencies to expeditiously establish scientific integrity officials and chief science officers.</p><p>In addition to rescinding the secretarial order at DOI, the Biden administration has also rescinded several other anti-science actions taken over the past four years. Among the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/02/24/executive-order-on-the-revocation-of-certain-presidential-actions/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">many anti-science executive orders reversed by President Biden are </a>an order that directed agencies to arbitrarily cut their advisory committees by one-third and another that required agencies to cut two regulations for every new regulation they issued.</p><p>There has been a lot of progress for science-based decisionmaking over the past six weeks, with more expected as qualified individuals are appointed to head science-based agencies. And yet we know through our research that <a href="https://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/uploads/5/4/3/4/5434385/berman_emily__carter_jacob.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">every administration has politicized science-based decisionmaking to some extent</a>.</p><p>We will continue to watch, demand, and ensure that science guides the critical decisions being made by the Biden administration. Our health, our environment, and our safety depend on it.</p><p><em><a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/author/jacob-carter#.YED_bRNKjt0" target="_blank">Jacob Carter</a> is a research scientist for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from the <em><a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/jacob-carter/science-wins-at-the-interior-department" target="_blank">Union of Concerned Scientists</a>.</em></em></p>
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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