Sleep duration may play a key role in regulating body weight.

 By: Jodie Shield, RDN

Sleep away pounds. Pinch me, I’m dreaming – not! If you like your zzzz’s, go ahead and hit the snooze button. Emerging research presented at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo 2014 has shed some light on the weight and sleep connection. Thanks to our 24/7 lifestyle, up to a third of us walk around sleep deprived. Researchers are finding that people who get less than 5 hours of shuteye a night are more likely to gain weight. And this holds true for adults, teens, and children. It appears sleep deprivation disrupts our body’s energy balance in three key ways. Being up longer provides more overeating opportunities – hello chocolate ice cream carton! Plus, I know from experience, being too tired increases the odds I will skip my daily workout. But here’s the eye-opener: there’s a hormonal link. For many adults, sleep deprivation increases the release of Ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite, and decreases Leptin, which helps you feel full.

How much sleep do you need each day? That depends on your age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-8 hours for most healthy adults, 9-10 hours for teens, at least 10 hours for school-aged children, and 11-12 hours for preschoolers. Here are some tips I developed for FitStudio that will help you maximize your quantity and quality of sleep. They’ve worked for me. Let me know what works for you.

  •  Establish a sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
  •  Get in the mood. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment.
  •  Declare your bedroom a sleeping zone. Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” and use it only for sleeping.
  •  Nix the nighttime noshing. Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.

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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N.
Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

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