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Sleep your way to weight loss? (10/5/10)

October 5, 2010

Sleep, Weight, Muscle and Fat

There are dozens of studies that people who sleep less weigh more (and also die younger.)  Can sleeping more cause weight loss?

Probably.

Most of the studies done have observed very few people for very short periods.  Their answer has generally been yes – you can lose weight when you sleep more.  The more interesting questions are how and why?

Today’s study from the University of Chicago looked at young people living in the Clinical Research Center.  When you live in the CRC you can control what people eat, how they move, when they sleep – but it won’t be like real life.

Two groups of five people did the same things – one had 5.5 hours to sleep, the other 8.5 hours (though they only got 7.25 hours of actual sleep.)  Both groups lost 6.6 pounds.  The group that got more sleep lost far more fat than the group who slept 5.5 hours.

The short sleeping group was digesting muscle as they lost weight.

Hormones like ghrelin and leptin showed predictable but small responses in this tiny group, but the issue of glucose and insulin was murkier.  What’s really going on?

A lot.  Change sleep and how the body regenerates, and you won’t look the same.

Interestingly, similar weight loss results occurred years earlier when Colin Shapiro at the University of Toronto had middle aged people exercise on an exercycle, one group under bright light,  the other without.  Both lost about the same amount of weight, but the group who exercised in bright light developed more muscle mass – just like the Chicago “dieters.”

What This Means

Human regeneration is swift.  Setting up the proper conditions gives the body different signals.  Getting the right information can help you get the results you desire.

Weight in humans is controlled by highly complex systems involving sleep, physical activity, active rest, what you eat, when you eat it, even the size of your plates and the color of the dining room.  What is clear is that set the right conditions and people lose weight – the right information counts.

The public wants simple single answers, however.  Is there a weight loss superfood (acai berries, anyone?) A perfect exercise regime?  The right amount of sleep that causes weight loss every time?

Food, activity, and rest, including the passive rest of sleep,  are large parts of the picture.  So are body clocks and social behaviors.  Light, in the form of sunlight, changes perhaps brown fat metabolism as well as body clocks.  Since time rules life, light be a major factor, too.

An Easy Way to Do It

If weight loss is your goal, try this – going FAR.  FAR stands for Food, Activity, and Rest.  Eat, move, then rest, especially the active forms of rest that help regenerate mind and body.  If after eating you can walk, stroll, do housework, yardwork, pace back and forth on a cell phone, or meander back from your meal with friends or work colleagues, you may do much more than control weight.  You can improve your mood.  You can improve your sleep.  You can help prevent the major diseases that kill most people.  You can also have a lot of fun.

The principle that matters is regeneration.  That’s how your body works.  Much of you is gone, replaced within a matter of days.  Biology works fast.  If you give your biology the right information, it remakes you easily. Since everything in you, from brain to muscle to the immune system, can learn from experience, both the hardware and software replacements often function better.

So sleep is part of weight loss, an effect that will probably prove stronger with longer periods of  study. Eating earlier in the day is also a factor.  So is physical activity.  So is rest in its physical, mental, social and spiritual forms.  Putting it together through going FAR is a simple, easy way to go.  And you can gain far more than a slimmer waistline. You can find a way to live that can make you sharper, more aware, more alert, and more productive – and give you a shot at a longer life.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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