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Sleep Your Weight Away

By Debbie Mandel

These days just about everyone I meet wants to lose weight. Itís at the top of the wish list. However, no one wants to feel deprived and hungry or give up comfort food Ė those forbidden snacks that remind us of childhood and temporarily raise our serotonin levels. And when it comes to an exercise program, everyone has excuses why exercising does not fit into the schedule from: ďIím just too tiredĒ to ďI donít have time to go to the gym, shower, change and drive home.Ē Apparently, with exercise itís an all or nothing proposition. Some people are even taking appetite suppressants to curb their hunger hoping that the side effects donít apply to them. Everyone is praying for a genie in a bottle. However, there is something almost as good: Sleeping your weight away!

When you sleep through the night, your fat cells secrete a hormonal appetite suppressant called Leptin which also triggers the metabolism to burn more calories. Exactly how and why Leptin works is still not clearly understood by scientists.

Research also shows that sleep helps you deal with daytime stress both mind and body. Therefore when you are not sleeping enough, which means getting about eight hours of sleep a night, you might be gaining weight because of the stress-hormone cortisol which tends to deposit fat around your middle or trigger midnight binge eating. And when you donít get enough sleep, you wake up irritable and anything can set you off during the day. Thatís when you reach for comfort food to manage your daytime stress and so the story of weight gain goes.

You laugh, ďEight hours in one night?Ē You canít even remember the last time you were able to sleep for a solid block of time. However, letís look at the facts: You donít want to diet and you donít want to exercise. Perhaps, sleep is more agreeable!

Here are some tips to help you sleep your weight away:
  • Get as much light as you can during your waking hours. Afternoon sun helps reset your melatonin levels which will help you go to sleep at night.
  • Unwind before bedtime. Find a ritual you enjoy to unwind: reading, listening to relaxing music, visualization, a warm bath, a soothing tea, etc.
  • Donít override your biorhythms with technology. Shut the TV and stop checking your emails.
  • Make your bedroom dark and cool Ė use heavy shades to block out any light.
  • Avoid eating the ďnight shadesĒ close to bedtime like: eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, cheese and stimulants like sugar, chocolate and caffeinated products.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, including weekends.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com