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Sleep and your waistline

You've been eating right and been putting in time at the gym. However the scale is not budging. Quick question. When's the last time you had a good night’s sleep?

Your bed is calling your name.
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Sleep and the scale go hand in hand. Not getting enough sleep messes with our hormones, in particular Cortisol. Cortisol, which is produced in your adrenal glands, is naturally high in the morning to help you wake and low in the evening to help you sleep.

Lack of sleep and stress will keep cortisol levels elevated thought the day and night. This can cause

1. Muscle breakdown- Cortisol’s main function is breaking down substances for energy. That includes your hard earned muscle.

2. Weight gain- A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that lack of sleep impacts your brain in such a way that it pushes you towards the pantry, not away from it. Only one night of fewer than six hours sleep triggers areas of your brain that is involved in your need to eat.

But don’t despair, you only need to make a few small changes to help you get that good night’s sleep you've been craving:

1. Timing your food intake- Eating the majority of your protein in the morning/afternoon and have your dinner with some carbohydrates (fruit/vegetables, not sugar) which should aid in maintaining a proper Circadian rhythm.

2. Manipulate light exposure- Manipulating light exposure for brighter white/blue/green lights in the morning and dimmer red/pink lights (or just darkness) at night helps in maintaining a proper sleep cycle.

3. Supplement with Melatonin- This is a naturally occurring substance in the body, but supplementing melatonin can help to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. (Since the FDA does not regulate supplements, there may be inconsistencies in brands, so if one doesn't seem to help, you might try another brand.)

So help your waistline by using the three methods above to get more shut eye. If you still need assistance, schedule an appointment with your doctor or with the Clinical Center for Sleep and Breathing Disorders at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Your body and the scale will thank you.

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