According to recent clinical research at the Mayo Clinic in the US, a lack of sleep could lead to weight increase and ultimately, obesity. Presenting at a medical conference earlier this year, study author, Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D. and Professor of Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, detailed the eight month study of 17 young men and women in normal health.
Study participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted during the research period, but half the participants slept normally whilst the other half slept roughly two thirds of their whole time.
Sleep More, Eat Less
The results were startling! The participants in the group deprived of sleep consumed on average an additional 549 calories per day but burned the same number of calories, dispelling the myth that the longer you are awake the more calories you burn!
Co-investigator, cardiology fellow and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Andrew D. Calvin, M.D., M.P.H., commented, "if people want to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, they should try to avoid sleep deprivation."
According to the NHS, around 30% of the UK population suffers sleep problems, with many of us not achieving the required six to nine hours of sleep every night.
Top Tips For a Good Night
Anyone wishing to read more about sleep issues and sleep solutions should read on. A good sleep routine is essential to regular deep, remedial sleep. But what works for some may not work for others. It's important to find out what works for you, and sticking to a routine to encourage great sleep night after night.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Consistency is important, so try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. This will leave you feeling much more refreshed, more so than sleeping the same number of hours at different times. To discover your ideal sleep schedule, time permitting, try going to bed for a week at the same time and allow yourself to wake up naturally, so establishing the natural sleep schedule that works best for you.
2. Increase exposure to light during the day. The hormone that helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle is melatonin, the production of which is conducted by light exposure, which can be disrupted by modern life. Reduce light exposure in the evening and make your bedroom as dark as possible to aid a good night.
3. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. A relaxing and peaceful bedtime routine will lead to a deeper sleep by signalling to the brain that it is time to switch off.
4. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. Daytime eating and exercise habits have a critical role to play. Of particular importance is what is consumed in the hours before bedtime. Try to avoid big meals late at night, limit or avoid alcohol, cut down caffeine and quit smoking.
5. Reduce stress and anxiety. Learning how to control stress is a major factor. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or visualising a peaceful place.
It goes without saying that without a comfortable bed you are unlikely to achieve a good night's rest, so it may be time to invest in a new mattress or a different pillow. Investing in a good night's sleep will lead to greater productivity during the day, higher energy levels and an all-round improved sense of wellbeing.