Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday stress and your waistline

A new study in the journal Sleep finds that forgoing a full night's sleep could sabotage your efforts to stay slim.

Normal-weight men and women were studied under two conditions: getting a short amount of sleep (4 hours--which I sometimes get) and normal sleep (9 hours--oh, if only!).

The researchers found that, in men, short sleep led to a spike in levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. In women, short sleep reduced the hormone (GLP-1) that makes you feel full.

So, getting too-few hours of sleep had different effects on men (increased appetite) and women (reduced feelings of fullness), but with the same result: a tendency toward overeating.

Of course, during the holidays that's particularly dangerous. So looking around your what do you see: a gift tin of holiday popcorn right now and on the counter, a box of chocolates. There are all sorts of holiday food temptations right now. And it turns out that our reduced head-on-pillow time is increasing our chances of being hit.

The obvious solution is to get more sleep. But that's just not always realistic. So here's a strategy for fighting those munchies: loads of cut, easy to grab, veggies in the fridge; a full bottle of water by your side at all times; and taking the stairs when you come back from those shopping trips (bonus--that "step" could actually add a few years to your life). 

If you're concerned about what the holiday season could be doing to your waistline, these tips might be just what you need to sidestep those extra holiday pounds.

If you need something natural to help you sleep, click here.

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