Getting a Good Nights Rest Can Keep Belly Fat from Accumulating

By on July 1, 2013
Burning the midnight oil may put you at a greater risk of gaining weight. While you are up late at night, it is tempting to graze the kitchen for snacks, according to a new study.

University of Pennsylvania researchers say that people who stayed up until 4am in a sleep lab ate more than 550 calories during the wee hours of the morning than those who went to bed at a more reasonable time. The snacks themselves were also higher in fat compared to other calories consumed during the day.

During five days of sleep deprivation, those participants who snacked when they should have been sleeping gained more weight in five days than people in the control group who received a good night’s sleep.

According to the medical director of the Martha Jefferson Sleep Center in Charlottesville Va, Dr. W. Christopher Winter, eating late at night often triggers changes in hormones that interfere with the metabolic process. There is an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger cravings along with a decrease in leptin, the hormone that makes people feel full. With these hormone changes, it is easy to crave bad food and more of it as your body tends to feel less full when it eats bad food than when it eats a healthy, whole food diet.

During the research study, participants were allowed to eat whenever they wanted to and monitors kept track of what and how much they consumed. One group only had four hours of sleep. The amount the sleep deprived group ate was then compared to the amount eaten by a control group who had a good night’s rest but also had the same food available. The only variable between the groups was the amount of sleep that each group received. Participants lived in a suite with a kitchen. Those that were sleep deprived ate additional calories between the hours of 10pm and 4am.

Previous studies have shown a link between lack of sleep and weight gain and support the fact that people who wish to control their weight should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Much research has been done on shift workers who tend to be prone to obesity and diabetes.

According to research, eating bad food at night is worse than eating them during the day. This proves that it is not only what you eat that can be problematic but also when you eat. The best way to manage weight is to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and avoid nighttime snacking.

Try to go to bed and get up at around the same time each night. Getting the body into a routine will help ward off the urge to snack.

If you are a night owl, it is important to pay attention to your snacking habits. If it helps, keep a diary of all food consumed. Typically, you should not consume any food past 8pm each night. Sleep deprivation is hard enough on the body without the added stress of extra weight.

About The Author: Susan Patterson

Susan Patterson is a natural health writer with passion for living well. Her writing includes regular contributions to some of the most visited health and wellness sites on the Internet, e-books, and expert advice. As a Certified Health Coach, Master Gardener and Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor, Susan has helped many people move towards a better understanding of alternative health options. Susan practices what she writes and is an avid fitness enthusiast, whole foods advocate and pursuer of sustainable living.

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