In ‘The Duvet Diet – Sleep Yourself Slim’, health journalist Jane Worthington looks at a host of new research that suggests broken nights significantly disrupt our hormones and metabolism, leaving us much more prone to overeating and weight gain.
But once you get into healthy sleep habits, she says, you’ll find it much easier to control your appetite and lose weight. She quotes a recent study of more than 6,000 people carried out at Columbia University, America.
Stopping snoring will obviously help you and your partner to sleep better and this research has now clearly proved that this makes weight loss much easier. Scientists have found that sleep deprivation causes excessive hunger, which may lead to an increased BMI and other health problems. Sleep better and without even trying you’ll eat less because you’ll feel less hungry and you’ll not be prone to snacking.
When it comes to getting more sleep, Jane Worthington suggests that simply improving your bedtime routine and eating habits can work wonders – though if you snore, it is vital you address this problem first of all.
Snoring is a major cause of sleeplessness. If you gasp for breath when you’re sleeping, it can mean that you could be waking up as much as 100 times an hour without realising.
Severe snoring can be due to a condition called sleep apnoea, when you struggle to get air into your lungs because something is restricting the airway. This restriction often comes from the weight of fat around the neck – a problem that becomes more prevalent with age as muscle tone in the neck decreases. People with short wide necks are most prone to snoring.
Men are also more susceptible as they tend to accumulate more fat around the neck as they age and have narrower air pipes than women but a simple stop snoring mouthpiece designed for either sex will move the bottom jaw forward, keep the airway open, and prevent snoring.
Another new study looked at changes in body chemistry when deprived of sleep, and concluded that sleep deprivation causes excessive hunger. The lead author states that his findings add to the growing evidence of the dramatic effects on weight of snoring, sleep apnoea and sleep deprivation.
Losing weight is never easy, and harder for some people than others, but it has been proved that losing massive amounts of weight isn’t necessary to improve health. Shedding just 5% of body weight has been found to produce the biggest health benefits.
Researchers say this relatively small weight loss markedly lowers people’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as improving metabolic function in liver, fat and muscle tissue. They suggest it makes more sense for doctors to give patients this target to aim for than follow standard advice recommending they aim to lose up to 10% – a much higher target that may be counterproductive and even deter them.
Those patients who managed to lose 5% of their body weight experienced improvements to the secretion of insulin as well as insulin sensitivity, lowering their risk of type 2 diabetes. Future research may test whether a 5% weight loss would be beneficial to people already diagnosed with diabetes.
Commenting on the findings the British Heart Foundation says: “This study is good news for people who struggle with their weight as it suggests that even losing a small amount of weight can have a positive impact on health.
“As little as 5% weight loss resulted in improved blood pressure and lower levels of blood fats and blood sugar, which are all risk factors for heart disease. Losing more weight further improved heart health but setting realistic goals such as 5% is a good way to maintain healthy weight loss”.
When it comes to reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, lifestyle changes do not just apply to losing weight. Giving up smoking, preventing snoring or sleep apnoea, decreasing your alcohol intake and being more physically active all help reduce our risk of developing heart disease.
Stopping snoring will kick-start the weight loss automatically without you embarking on major forced changes in your eating habits or a ‘duvet diet’.