Sleep More, Weigh Less - Weil Vitamin Advisor
By the Weil Vitamin Advisor Editorial Staff
An Irish proverb holds that “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.”

Science supports both ideas! Many studies confirm that happy people (who, presumably, laugh more) enjoy better health. Good sleepers reap health benefits too, including one that may seem surprising: better weight control.

A large study of 87,000 U.S. adults, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, found the obesity rate was highest, at 33 percent, among those who slept less than six hours and lowest, 22 percent, among those who slept seven to eight hours a night. This was true for both men and women regardless of age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three Americans now sleeps less than seven hours a night. As we stay up later at night socializing, commuting, working or web surfing, this trend is likely to continue.

The "you snooze, you lose" mentality is ultimately not a healthy one. Many studies have linked chronic sleep deficiency to heart disease and diabetes, and now we know that it also increases our risk for obesity. Not getting enough sleep alters the appetite-regulating hormones: leptin, which tells us we are full, is reduced; while ghrelin, the hormone that regulates hunger, is elevated. And studies show that sleep deprivation boosts cravings for calorie-laden high-glycemic-load carbs, which further contributes to weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease.

And it's not only those carbs! Not surprisingly, those who sleep less than six hours a night are more likely to be physically inactive than those who sleep seven to eight. Makes perfect sense – sleepy people aren't first in line for a long jog or a hardcore weightlifting workout.

If a good night's sleep is eluding you, one of the best remedies is the simplest: just skip both caffeine and alcohol, especially in the last four hours of the day.

It's vital to manage your light-life. Dim the household lights. Don't look at bright screens – including the ever-alluring smartphone – in the final hours before hitting the sack. Reading on a computer screen or tablet two hours before bedtime can delay your sleep by about an hour! If you just can't turn off the technology, install free software, such as f.lux on your devices. This dims your screen in sync with the setting sun, making it easier to fall asleep.

Make your bedroom a sleep-centric sanctuary. If your mattress is too soft or too firm, your pillow too large or small, or your blankets too heavy or light, remove or rearrange immediately! Small adjustments in your sleeping environment can make a huge difference.

Avoid prescription sleep aids if at all possible. They can leave you groggy in the morning, and some are habit-forming. Better choices: natural, gentle supplements such as valerian, passionflower, hops or chamomile. These herbs have been prized by healers for centuries for their calming and sleep-inducing effects.

Bottom line: there are many reasons to get a good night's sleep - you can now add weight management to the list! To learn more about your specific sleep needs and ways to fulfill them, take a few moments to experience the Weil Vitamin Advisor's Sleep Evaluation. It can help you discover the supplements and lifestyle changes you – and you alone – need to get deep, restful and restorative sleep.

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The Weil Vitamin Advisor is a state-of-the-art health and lifestyle evaluation developed by our integrative health experts, and designed to provide personalized vitamin and supplement recommendations that are both safe and effective.

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