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Lack of sleep can cause us to gain weight

Posted in: Weight Loss 13 Apr, 2012

Most people would love to fall asleep for eight hours every night, but with hectic lifestyles and long working hours it can be difficult to make sure that you get the right amount of rest every day.

The health benefits of regular sleeping patterns are widely publicised, but less than five and a half hours’ sleep every night can also have a negative impact on our appearance. A new study has shown that in addition to bags under the eyes, greasy hair and dry skin, sleep deprivation can also make us gain weight.

The research led by Dr Orfeu Buxton showed that limited sleep causes the metabolism to slow down due to lack of energy and a person will burn an extra 150 calories per day on average if they get a full night’s sleep, which adds up to over a stone in weight each year.

There are two main reasons why a person would sleep for less than five and a half hours a day, putting them at risk of weight gain. It can be due to a lack of time or a sleep disorder such as insomnia.

The UK has one the longest working weeks of any country in Europe with full-time workers putting in an average of 41.4 hours. The cost of living in cities has risen in recent years meaning that many people are moving further away from where they work and having longer commutes. Studies show that in London only 18% of workers can reach their place of work in 15 minutes or less.

By adding a family life and social activities into this already scrammed schedule, sleeping can often seem like a dispensable luxury and more people are relying on caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks in order to maintain focus during the day.

Statistics have shown that the amount of time spent sleeping is now 20% lower than it was 100 years ago. Modern technology is so much a part of life that most of us fall asleep clutching our smartphones with a laptop on standby whirring away in the same room.

This can have detrimental psychological effects as it causes us to associate a bed with work rather than sleep and can lead to insomnia. Similarly, the extensive use of social media and online interaction means that our brains are used to being constantly stimulated and most people are unable to fall asleep without the television or computer playing in the background. This not only leads to less hours of sleep every night, but it also means that the sleep we do get is more disturbed.

With all of these external factors influencing our sleeping patterns it is no wonder that most of us do not manage the recommended eight hours’ sleep. Unfortunately, if you are trying to lose weight anything less than five and a half hours is likely to counteract the effects of any diet or exercise plan.

Whether it’s the health implications, the emotional consequences or the aesthetic worries it is clear that sleep deprivation can cause disruptions to your life in all areas, so even if it may seem unimportant, small changes to improve your sleep patterns can have a dramatic effect on your quality of life.

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