Do you need to lose ten pounds or more? Shedding excess weight is a frustrating experience for most people. They cut back their calories, sometimes to an extreme, and start an exercise program – but see few results. In frustration, they fall back into their old eating habits – and sell their exercise bike at a yard sale. Why is it so hard? The reality is losing weight is more than just diet and exercise. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity, if you want to lose ten pounds or more you should look at your sleep habits – and lower your stress levels.
Can You Lose Ten Pounds or More by Reducing Stress and Sleeping More?
In this 500-person study, researchers looked at the effects of stress, depression and too little sleep on weight loss – as well as the effects of time spent in front of the television and computer screen. They found that how much sleep a person got and his or her stress level were both good indicators of whether they would be successful losing weight. Neither computer and television screen time nor depression predicted weight loss success.
That was the ideal amount of sleep in this study? Those who slept at least six hours a night but not more than eight and those who reported lower levels of stress were the most likely to lose weight in this study. Sleeping less than six hours and having high stress levels reduced the chances of taking off those extra pounds.
What Does This Mean?
This isn’t the first study to show that sleep affects weight loss. Other research shows that lack of sleep alters levels of two important hormones involved in regulating appetite – leptin and ghrelin. Plus, too little sleep time may affect fat metabolism directly. Researchers from Stanford and the University of Wisconsin found that people who sleep less than eight hours a night have higher body fat stores. One more reason to get your eight hours each night. People who sleep less generally have more cravings for high-carb foods, which probably contribute to their inability to lose weight.
The Bottom Line?
If you’ve struggled to lose those last ten pounds and nothing seems to work, take a closer look at your sleep habits and your stress level. If you’re not sleeping well or you’re dealing with stress-related issues, take a yoga class or spend a few minutes each day meditating. Make changes to your schedule that allow you to get seven or eight hours of sleep a night. Do these things and you may find you’re snacking less during the day – and you’ll finally lose those last 10 pounds.
WebMD. “The Dream Diet: Losing Weight While You Sleep”
Eurekalert.org. “Moderate Sleep and Less Stress May Help with Weight Loss”