Learning Strategies Blog

Snooze So You Can Lose… Fat

by Pete Bissonette

If you’re working to lose excess body fat, try not to lose any sleep over it. If you do, you may be defeating your purpose.

Inadequate sleep significantly reduced the amount of fat loss among participants in a study at the University of Chicago’s Clinical Resource Center.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, followed overweight but healthy volunteers placed on balanced diets with calories restricted to 90 percent of what each person needed to maintain his or her weight without exercise, about 1,450 calories.

Each person was studied in the laboratory over two separate 14-day periods, reported the University of Chicago News. The first phase set aside 8.5 hours for sleep each night and the second phase set aside 5.5 hours for sleep.

Participants slept an average of 7 hours and 25 minutes a night during the longer sleep phase of the study and 5 hours and 14 minutes during the shorter sleep phase. While participants lost an average of 6.6 pounds during each 14-day session, the amount of fat loss varied significantly with sleeping time.

“During weeks with adequate sleep, they lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of fat-free body mass, mostly protein. During the short-sleep weeks, participants lost an average of 1.3 pounds of fat and 5.3 pounds of fat-free mass,” the News reported. In addition, their levels of ghrelin, a hormone known to promote the retention of fat, rose with less sleep.

“For the first time we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions,” said study director Plamen Penev, M.D., Ph.D. “Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat though dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55 percent.”

In addition to weight issues, poor sleep is associated with a number of health-related issues including high blood pressure, stroke, and depression.

Are you getting the sleep your body needs? If not consider these tips from our Sleep Deeply/Wake Refreshed Paraliminal.

  • Go to bed and wake up each morning at the same time, even on weekends. This helps set your natural biological clock to nature’s 24-hour cycle. Everything from body temperature to hormone secretion is linked to this cycle.
  • Devote between seven and nine hours to sleep every night. If you get less than that now, commit to getting eight hours for at least a week or two. See how it impacts the way you feel and the level of your energy each day.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend in bed thinking about issues or problems. While bedtime may be one of the few quiet times you have to think, don’t let problem-solving interfere with your rest. After 20 minutes say to yourself, “I’m now clear about what the problem is. I’ll go to sleep and let my inner mind work on it at a nonconscious level.” Then see what solutions come your way when you awaken in the morning.
  • Eliminate negative self-talk as you lay awake in bed such as “It’s 2 a.m.! I’m never getting back to sleep. I’ll be exhausted all day!” By projecting a negative state into the future, you raise the level of adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones disruptive to the body’s ability to sleep.
  • If nothing is stressing you out and you still can’t sleep, consider other possibilities such as lack of physical activity during the day, too much physical activity before bed, and the overconsumption of alcohol, caffeine, heavy foods, or sugars. Keep track of your habits and nutrition in a journal and make changes that enhance your sleep.

Each night offers you the opportunity to reconnect with your internal source of healing and balance. Take advantage of it!

To help you gain the rest and restorative sleep you desire, I recommend you listen to the Sleep Deeply/Wake Refreshed Paraliminal. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen.

This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about Sleep Deeply/Wake Refreshed and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.