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Are Your Sleep Habits Affecting Your Weight Loss?

Considerable medical evidence has revealed some intriguing links between sleep habits and weight loss, or gain, for that matter.

Research has shown that the amount and, possibly quality of sleep, may silently lead to a series of hormonal activity linked to appetite.

While medics have long known that some hormones are affected by sleep patterns, it wasn’t until a few years ago that appetite entered the fray. Some of the findings include:

- Notable increase in body mass index (BMI) in people who had less than 6 hours of sleep every night.

- A 16 year study found that there was slightly more weight gained by women who had  a maximum of 5 hours of sleep in a day, compared to those who slept for 7 hours a day.

- People who had less than 8 hours of sleep in a day accumulated more fat than those who slept more

It is no surprise that many people on weight management programs seem to complain of not getting results despite ‘doing everything right‘. However, after a critical analysis of their sleeping habits, majority score terribly bad. It therefore becomes imperative to devise a weight management program that incorporates sound sleep habits to complement a healthy diet and an exercise routine.

How sleep affects body functions

Most body functions that are vital to maintaining proper health and sustaining life -for instance hormone secretion, brain function and temperature regulation - occur on a 24-hour cycle. Some of the imbalances that may cause disruption in these processes are repaired by the body when we sleep, thus, a regular sleep pattern establishes a regular repair program.

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When the body doesn’t get regular, quality sleep, some of these body functions begin to execute in an ‘out of whack’ manner.  For instance, lack of proper sleep causes hormones that regulate hunger and appetite to work out of order, altering the normal eating cues.

Having said that, some irregular sleep patterns are caused by undiagnosed ailments, for instance sleep apnea results in interrupted sleep (waking up frequently), while an under-active thyroid causes fatigue and weakness, which result in over sleeping.

Other irregular sleep patterns are caused by lifestyle or hectic schedules, for instance, frequent flying may cause irregular sleep patterns due to jet lag, working late may cause you to sleep late and eventually, you’ll feel sleepy during the day and sometimes poor diet may cause fatigue, which leads to sleeping at awkward hours. Another killer of sleep is stress; this can be double misery for weight loss as you’ll eat to relieve stress and instead gain weight.

How to get adequate sleep for weight loss

While the recommended 8 hours of sleep per day can not exactly fit into most of our busy schedules, there are ways through which we can regain some control over our sleep habits and minimize the negative effect of inadequate sleep on weight.

Make sleep a priority in your life. Set a regular sleeping schedule and strictly adhere to it. A lot of people have sleep schedules which they don’t adhere to.

Ensure you have a standard wake-up time. This helps to condition your body to overcome the ‘wake-up laziness’.

Have regular exercise, especially morning exercise. This is one of the best ways to create quality sleep at night.

If, for some reason you have to sleep late every night, utilize power naps during the day. Take 15 to 20 minute naps whenever you can. Address any causes of any stress.

Most importantly, rule out possible ailments by checking with a doctor. This will help you in living a long and healthy life.

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