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Your Health ~ March, 2013 (Vol. 07, Issue 03)
Gaining weight may have to do more with how many zzz's you are getting rather than how much you are consuming. New research has found that losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain. Just how much? Let's find out.
Recently, researchers from the University of Colorado recruited 16 healthy men and women for a two-week experiment tracking sleep, metabolism and eating habits. The goal was to determine how inadequate sleep over just one week affects a person's weight, behavior and physiology, according to the study.
During the first week, half the people were allowed to sleep nine hours a night while the other half stayed up until about midnight and then could sleep up to five hours. Everyone was given unlimited access to food. In the second week, the nine-hour sleepers were then restricted to five hours of sleep a night, while the sleep-deprived participants were allowed an extra four hours.
According to the study, researchers found that staying up late and getting just five hours of sleep increased a person's metabolism. Sleep-deprived participants actually burned an extra 111 calories a day, according to the findings published last week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, the light sleepers ended up eating far more than those who got nine hours of sleep, and by the end of the first week the sleep-deprived subjects had gained an average of about two pounds. During the second week, members of the group that had originally slept nine hours also gained weight when they were restricted to just five hours. And the other group began to lose some (but not all) of the weight gained in that first sleep-deprived week, according to the study.
It is always recommended to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, if you are looking to lose some pounds, make sure to get your sleep. It might help you get rid of those extra pounds.
If the he thought of making your bed in the great outdoors makes you apprehensive, you’re not alone. Most of us have gotten accustomed to sleeping in a quiet room with lots of pillows and a cushy mattress to help soothe us to sleep. However, you too can enjoy camping out under the stars on a balmy summer’s night by following some of these helpful tips.
Set up your tent on a flat surface. Having your belongings slide into one corner or experiencing all the blood rushing to your head as you sleep because you are on a tilted surface does not make for a restful night’s sleep. Also ensure that the area over which you set up your tent is free of bumpy objects such as rocks and tree roots that will make you wake up feeling sore and bruised.
Use an inflatable sleeping pad (if you are hiking) or an inflatable air mattress (for those who do not have to trek it along for miles) under your sleeping bag to provide extra padding. And if you use an air mattress, don’t forget to bring along the pump or your lungs will likely give out before you have filled it to anything like a useable state.
Check the weather forecast to see what level of insulation you will need for your sleeping bag. Being either too hot or too cold is not conducive to sleep. And remember that even in locations where it is warm during the day, the temperature can often drop significantly overnight. You can purchase a sleeping bag liner that will add an additional 25 degrees of warmth without being bulky. And if it’s too hot, you can always sleep on top of your sleeping bag.
Though some people find the sound of crickets is an aid in lulling them to sleep, for some (particularly city dwellers) it’s worse than traffic noise on a busy Manhattan street. For those who are light sleepers, consider bringing along some earplugs. Or if you are someone who needs white noise and you are not near the ocean or the crickets in your area have gone on strike, there are a number of smartphone apps that can provide sounds such as that of ocean waves or rain falling on the roof.
Be sure your sleepwear is dry. If your clothing is damp or wet, change into dry ones and put on a fresh pair of socks to make you feel extra comfortable. And make sure you do not overdress, as you can become overheated and sweaty, which can lead to getting a chill. A light pair of long underwear is your best bet, and if you are a bit too cool, throw your jacket or a light blanket over your sleeping bag for extra warmth.
A little light exercise before bed can also help you get a good night’s sleep. Nothing too vigorous to get you sweating, just a few sit-ups or some yoga is good for getting the circulation going and tiring you just enough to settle you down to sleep. So take these tips and enjoy your night under the star-filled sky!