A typical office worker spends a third of his day at work, seated while doing mental work and incidental physical activities such as walking and moving from one place to another.
The next third of his day is spent relaxing, running errands, or doing fitness activities such as running or gym workouts.
No matter what our daily activities are, we spend the final third of our day sleeping. Two-thirds of our 24 hours will depend on how we get a complete sleep.
You might have the best exercise and eating plans, but if you lack sleep, weight management strategies will not work.
An interesting study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2010) shows that getting 8.5 hours of sleep can help one burn an additional 400 calories. This study reported that people who slept for only 5.5 hours lost less body fat and lost more muscle than the group that slept for 8.5 hours. Muscle loss results in slower metabolism.
This study can be linked to another article in Psychology Today (May 2011) by “The Sleep Doctor” Michael Breus, PhD. According to that article, we burn more calories in the last two hours of an eight-hour sleep because that’s when we get our Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, when our brain is mostly active and uses the most calories.
Sleep deprivation can affect one’s cognitive performance, particularly in decision-making, mental processing, memory and even coping skills. If you sleep right, you can exercise good judgment in planning your day, doing your workout, choosing the right eating plan, and becoming more productive. This will result in increased motivation and will power.
Numerous studies also show the role of hormones such as ghrelin and leptin in increasing one’s tendency to overeat. Lack of sleep will bring the leptin down, causing lack of satisfaction from eating, so you tend to eat more.
Ghrelin, a hormone responsible for stimulating one’s appetite, increases with lack of sleep. A study conducted by the University of Chicago revealed that sleeping for four hours for two consecutive nights will increase the level of ghrelin, and therefore, hunger, by 24 percent, and will induce craving for sweets.
Lack of sleep definitely results in lack of energy, preventing you from burning extra calories. Studies have also shown that a sleep-deprived athlete will experience problems after 90 minutes, like hypoglycemia and “hitting the wall” in marathons.
Another human hormone important in weight control is the human growth hormone (HGH), responsible for controlling the body’s fat and muscle proportion. Lack of sleep will result in decreased HGH secretion and increased ability to store more fat in the stomach.
Lack of sleep will affect your immune system and your health because, according to a 2010 study, people who get less than six hours of sleep a night are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
According to a report published last year in the journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity, those who engaged in at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week experienced 65-percent improved sleep quality, and reported falling asleep faster and experiencing less sleepiness during the day. So try to get even 30 minutes of exercise on the days when you find it hard to sleep.
The time of eating and the quality and quantity of food affect sleep, because you have a harder time sleeping if you do not follow a regular eating schedule. For example, if you eat six hours before bedtime, you will get hungry again right before you sleep, so you will eat and disrupt sleeping time.
Also, a bigger meal close to bedtime will not give you quality sleep. Caffeine, sodas, tea and chocolates will contribute to difficulty in sleeping, so if you are sensitive to these substances, try not to take any eight hours before bedtime.
Weight is a contributing factor to the quality of your sleep. If you are overweight or obese, you are susceptible to developing breathing problems like sleep apnea that disrupt your sleep and cause snoring.
Lastly, lifestyle skills play a big role in getting a good sleep.
Learning to manage your time, to eliminate your stressors, to plan your day and to fix your sleep environment can help ensure the right amount and quality of sleep.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mitchfelipe.