Weighty Days & Sleepless Nights

Along with the relationship that exercise and diet have on weight and health, the quality of your sleep can also dramatically impact body size and associated health implications. Several recent studies examined the issue. One involving 1,000 men and women showed that those who slept the least tended to weigh the most. The second study can help explain why that was true.

After being allowed only 4 hours of shut-eye 2 nights in a row, a dozen healthy men in their 20s experienced an 18% decline in leptin levels, a hormone responsible for telling your brain that your stomach's full. They also exhibited a 28% increase in the hormone ghrelin, which turns the hunger mechanism on. It's no wonder that these young men reported a 24% increase in hunger pangs.

The Bigger Picture: While some people are fine with a nightly average of 6 hours sleep, others require as many as 10. To see what's right for you, take a vacation and leave the alarm clock behind. After a few days, you'll be caught up on sleep enough to be able to determine your natural cycle. When you return to work and that late afternoon energy drag starts to hit you, take a short walk instead of reaching for a candy bar. Exercise is a much more effective way to deal with stress and fatigue.
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