Health: It’s not a dream – you snooze and you lose

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Kirsty Walton, from KW Fitness explains the science behind sleeping weight off!

It’s not a myth. As incredible as it sounds, there’s substantial evidence that proves sleep tips the scales. So if you’re keen to whittle your waistline, then getting enough sleep can help shed those stubborn pounds.

Researchers believe that’s because a lack of sleep wreaks havoc with our appetite and fullness control hormones, upsetting our metabolism and affecting eating habits.

Ghrelin – produced in the stomach - is the hormone that tells your brain food is required, while Leptin – a hormone produced by fat cells - tells the brain not to eat more. Insufficient rest causes your body to produce more Ghrelin and less Leptin which, in turn, will make you want to eat more and stop eating less.

Research by Prof Emmanuel Mignot of Stanford University and Dr Shahrad Taheri of the University of Bristol found that people who sleep only two to four hours a night were 73 per cent more likely to be obese than normal sleepers. In those consistently sleeping five hours compared with those sleeping eight, there was a 14.9 per cent increase in Ghrelin and a 15.5 per cent decrease in Leptin.

Getting enough sleep also encourages your body to burn more calories. Not only do you have more energy after a good night’s sleep, but your body torches calories, even when you’re not working up a sweat. More sleep stops late-night snacking - the longer you’re awake, the more likely you are to consume calories you don’t need. And never go food shopping when you’re exhausted as you’re more likely to reach for sugary snacks and stodgy carbohydrates.

The NHS recommends that adults should get between six and nine hours of sleep each night.

If you struggle to get enough sleep, here are a few helpful tips to make sure you get the rest your body needs:

Set a sleep schedule – get up at the same time everyday as regularity strengthens the sleep cycle.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine from 5pm - these are stimulants and will keep you awake.

Don’t consume food after 8:30pm - eating in the evening will encourage your body to stay awake for longer because it’s digesting food.

Exercise regularly as it will improve your mood and promote sound sleep and

Avoid afternoon naps to make sure you’re sleepy at bedtime.

Stay off your computer and phone an hour before bedtime - surfing the net fritters away your rest and relaxation time and the screen’s bright light can lead to a fitful sleep.

While I’m not condoning a diet of sleep alone to lose weight, I think it’s safe to say that, combined with regular exercise and a healthy eating regime you should successfully shed some pounds.

So, go ahead, sleep it off! Sweet dreams.


For information about KW Fitness, please contact Kirsty on 07802 202389.

Kirsty runs fitness classes throughout Leeds and holds different events throughout the year.

If you would like to sign up to the KW Fitness monthly newsletter which provides a roundup of local health and fitness events; diet and exercise tips; recommendations for smart food substitutions; and details about how to eat wise to drop a size then email