Want to Stay Thin? Go to Sleep!

Can you really sleep yourself skinny? Experts say there is a link

Sleep more, lose weight. It sounds like a dream diet, but evidence shows there is a link between sleep and weight -- and you need to get enough sleep to stay healthy and slim.

Experts say a good night's sleep is as essential as exercise, because lack of sleep affects your mood and ability to function day to day. What's worse is that it also causes you to eat more throughout the day.

In a state of sleep deprivation, your body produces a hormone called ghrelin, which tells your body, "I'm hungry, please feed me," says Amy Goodsen, a dietician. Your body then produces less of a hormone called leptin, which tells your body, "I'm satisfied, you can stop eating."

According to Goodsen, sleep deprivation causes all those hormones to get out of whack and you'll end up craving more food, and eat more through the course of the day. That, of course, sets the stage for weight gain.

In addition, Goodsen says, that lack of sleep can also ruin your diet. Say you've lost some weight and you're down to those final 5 or 10 pounds. One of those hormones connected to sleep can actually creep back in and affect your weight loss. When you don't get enough sleep, your body will respond by sending hunger cues to maintain your previous weight, Goodsen says.

Moreover, British scientists reported that people who sleep for fewer than four hours a night are 73 percent more likely to gain excess weight and lack of sleep can lead to eating an extra 900 calories a day. Add that to a normal diet and that could cause a weight gain of 2 pounds a week.

So how much sleep do you need to stay healthy and thin? According to sleep experts, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety.

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