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Your Body Takes In More Calories When You Don’t Sleep Enough, Science Says

Your Body Takes In More Calories When You Don’t Sleep Enough, Science Says

More and more people today sleep less and gain more weight than ever before. If you didn’t think there was a correlation between the two, you are wrong. Scientists confirmed that the average American eats 385 extra calories per day when they are sleep–deprived. This means that each time you deprive your body of getting enough sleep, an entire workout session goes to waste, as you add those calories the next day.

Surprising findings in the research

Together with his team, Andrew Calvin – MD, MPH and assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic – conducted a research on 17 people, both men and women, ages 18 to 40 to find out how sleep deprivation affects daily calorie intake. They tracked participants’ sleeping habits to discover their average sleeping hours. Next, they placed them into two groups – one that was allowed to sleep their normal hours, and the other that slept only two-thirds of their regular sleep time.  Both groups were allowed to consume any type of food in any amount they need. After eight days, the results showed that people who were deprived of their normal sleep hours were taking extra 549 calories daily, whereas the group with more sleeping hours consumed 143 fewer calories than usual.

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Another surprising finding was that it is actually due to increased calorie intake that the levels of hormone leptin (which informs our brain that we are full) were higher, and ghrelin (a hormone that informs our brain that we are hungry) levels were lower than usual, and not the other way around as was considered before. Therefore, we cannot rely on hormone control to stop us from eating too many calories after less sleep, but it is something that can be regulated only by getting enough sleep. As Calvin says, “If you are looking to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, I think getting adequate sleep may be very important.” Contrary to the popular belief, that the longer hours we stay awake, the more calories we burn, the research found no significant difference in activity expenditure between the two groups.

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How the vicious circle forms

This shouldn’t come as a surprise as we are all familiar with feeling drowsy and irritated after not getting a good night’s sleep. It is then no wonder that we tend to crave more fatty and sugary meals than usual as they provide artificial comfort and soothe us at least for some time. This leaves us feeling even more tired and lazy, resulting in not getting activity needed for burning extra calories. Hence, we gain weight in time, not to mention the amount of stress we are causing to ourselves, as we don’t allow our body and mind to rest and rejuvenate properly during sleep.

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Most common factors causing sleep deprivation include stress, worry and busy lifestyle. It can easily turn into a vicious cycle as we tend to feel more stressed and worried and our productivity worsens due to lack of sleep. Hours of sleep people need for proper rest wary from person to person, but it is important for everyone to respect their bodies’ needs in order to remain healthy, productive and happy.

What you should do to stop gaining weight from lack of sleep

Most people find it harmless at first to cut down on their sleep when making progress in their career but are very soon faced with the negative consequences of sleep deprivation. They tend to feel tired more often and are left with fewer productive hours of work. In order to avoid such struggle, it is highly recommended to finish all our tasks at work, or a study, strictly during working hours. Avoid consuming caffeine at least five hours prior to sleep as it robs you of quality sleep you need for next day’s professional challenges. Also, a great way to distract your mind from thinking about work is to get a white noise sound device, as it blocks out the distracting noise and provides soothing and relaxing sounds instead.

To prevent losing sleep due to worry, you should start practicing relaxing exercises before sleep. Deep breathing exercises such as yoga or meditation are extremely helpful as deep breathing provides enough oxygen, which clears our mind and calms our body.

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Ana Erkic

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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