Want to be slimmer, younger and healthier? The ultimate secret to looking and feeling fabulous is a good night’s rest, confirms scientists.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered direct evidence that sleep deprivation causes healthy adults to pack on pounds – by a jaw-dropping eight-fold!
In this study, participants who were made to stay up late consumed 30 percent more calories and gained about eight times the weight (average of 2.13 vs 0.24 lbs) over a two-week period compared to individuals who were allowed 10-12 hours of sleep. The sleep-weight connection appeared to affect African Americans more, and men more than women.
Lack of sleep can sabotage our waistlines in a variety of ways. Think about it: If you’re feeling groggy at work, you may be tempted to reach for a cup of coffee (or several) and an “innocent” doughnut (which usually multiples to two or three) or other comfort foods for a quick energy boost. You’re also likely to skip gym and pick up a fat-filled takeout on your way home as you’re just too exhausted to cook. But when you finally tuck yourself in bed, you could be too caffeine-loaded or wound up to fall asleep, and the vicious cycle goes on.
Like credit card debt, your sleep debt makes you pay high interests, causing your metabolism to plummet and ghrelin (the food-seeking hormone) levels to rise, thus setting the stage up for extra pounds and serious health issues.
Besides causing you to balloon or breakout, and worsening your dark circles and wrinkles, sleep deprivation also predisposes you to stroke, diabetes, mental deterioration, colorectal and breast cancer, and heart attack. In fact, short sleepers seem to die younger of any cause than those who clocked 6.5 to 7.5 hrs of zzz’s a night, according to a report on TIME.
If you are one of the thousands that failed to doze off by counting sheep, rest assured that hibernation tech has come a looong way.
Check out these practical sleep gadgets to help you secure sweet quality slumber and stay slim and fit – sans sleeping or diet pills:
LIGHT THERAPY: Light (or the sun) is the most potent factor shifting the circadian cycle, hence regulating our sleep and energy levels. So if your sleep’s been messed up by frequent jet-setting, portable light devices like the Philips goLITE BLU will help you re-sync your internal clock quickly and wake up better. Works as an alarm clock as well.
SKIN Tip: Turn that laptop and TV off 2 hours before hitting the sack to fall asleep faster.
Read More: 5 Tips for Blissful Beauty Sleep
WHITE NOISE: More effective than relaxing classical tunes, white noise (i.e. soft background sounds) can ease you into uninterrupted sleep as it blocks out sudden sounds like a barking dog or a zooming car that can lighten sleep or wake you. Bedside gadgets like The Sleep Infuser, or iPhone apps such as Relax Melodies serve as your white noise DJs. A series of soothing ambient hush-a-byes of falling rain or ocean waves are emitted to mimic the brainwave patterns of healthy sleepers and lull you into deep slumber.
SKIN Tip: Turn your bedside fan on. It creates white noise and keeps you cool – two proven snooze aides for a restful night.
KEEP YOUR COOL: The ideal temperature to set your brain and body into rest-and-repair mode is actually a chilly 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 22 celsius). Your bedroom temperature also especially affects the quality of REM sleep, the stage in which you dream. Other than turning down the aircon thermostat (and inflating your electricity bills), performance bedding such as Sheex that’s made of soft breathable fabric used in athletic gear or Sleep Relief Duo ‘chillows’ which you can slip under your pillow sheets can wick away heat to keep you comfortably cool for quality rest.
SKIN Tip: Grab your own blanket, instead of sharing one with your sleep mate. That solves the problem of you being awoken by your partner’s movements, unnecessary tiffs when the blanket isn’t evenly distributed, and prevents excess body heat from building up.
– By Emily Wong
*This article has been selected Editor’s Choice for Jul 2013*