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Excuse Buster: Sleep tight and lose weight

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Very often people come to me asking for a “revolutionary” exercise and diet program. Success however, doesn’t result from a trendy new work-out routine, but from getting the basics right – and sleep is one of those basics.

To all you late night owls out there, I’m talking to you!

Sleep plays one of the most profound roles in health and fat-loss endeavors, through the regulation of hormones. If you fail to acknowledge the role of sleep, and instead continue to push on with those late nights, your results could be very disappointing.

Here are some important hormones, and the negative effect that sleep deprivation can have on their performance, and subsequently, on your weight-loss success.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): it regulates the function of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 to help control your body’s metabolism, or rate of burning fuel. Lack of decent sleep reduces TSH, which leads to a slower metabolism and less energy.

Leptin: it plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure by inhibiting appetite and increasing the feeling of fullness. Not getting enough shut eye reduces leptin levels, which can result in overeating.

Ghrelin: it is leptin’s counterpart. It stimulates hunger, increasing before meals and decreasing after meals. Pulling multiple all-nighters can increase ghrelin levels, which can also lead to overeating.

“If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels,” once said Dr Plamen Penev, sleep expert and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

“We have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects,” he wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Besides being imperative for proper hormone performance, sleep is one of the most basic human needs. It is required for a number of the body’s essential functions: proper brain function; regulation of metabolism; maintaining memory and mood; stimulation of the immune system; and regeneration and repair of every cell in the body. It can even aid in anti-aging and keep you looking younger much longer.

In short, get good quality sleep, and plenty of it, and you will set yourself up for success.

Here are 10 strategies for having a better night’s rest so you can get your body back on track:

1. Start slowly. Try getting into bed 10-20 minutes earlier each night.

2. Sleep in a completely dark room; turn your bedroom into a cave.

3. Dim the lights at least one hour before bed. Artificial light suppresses and delays melatonin production.

4. Food can play a big role in being able to fall asleep and the quality of sleep. I have learned through experience that eating schedules differ for everyone; some need two hours after eating before they can fall sleep and others need to indulge in a small snack before bed. Listen to your body to find out what is best for you.

5. Exercise during the day.

6. Turn off the computer, TV, and as many electrical devices as early as possible. The brain stimulation caused by devices affects the pineal gland and causes it to secrete less melatonin.

7. “Download the day” before getting into bed by writing in a journal.

8. Take a nice, relaxing bath with Epsom or dead sea salts and baking soda in the evening.

9. Make use of essential oils like lavender and chamomile, and, if necessary, try supplements like Valerian root.

10. The bedroom is for sleeping – and for fun – so, if you have a TV in there, get rid of it!

Craig Burton is a nutritional expert with more than 15 years of experience at the forefront of the health and well-being field. He offers a high-level of his expertise in functional training and nutrition, focusing on detoxification, food intolerance and nutrient deficiency. For more information about Craig and his services, visit

— Craig Burton


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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