Sleep your way to a bikini body

As bikini season looms many of us step up gym time and cut out junk food, but are we overlooking one of the ultimate slim-down secrets – sleep?


How sleep affects your weight

Hungry hormones

There are two hormones that affect weight gain – Ghrelin, which regulates how hungry you feel and Leptin, which regulates the feeling of fullness. Lack of sleep increases Ghrelin levels, decreases Leptin levels and increases the desire to eat by around 45 per cent.

Reduced willpower

Tiredness reduces willpower. Research found that sleep deprived individuals select foods that are nine per cent higher in calories than they do after a good night’s sleep.

Tiredness impacts exercise

Lack of sleep reduces most people’s motivation for exercise, which in turn leads to weight gain. Being active can manage weight, tire muscles and boost sleep quality.

Quick fixes

When you’re tired it’s easy to reach for sugary snacks to keep you going, but the sugar high from your favourite junk food will leave you feeling much worse later. What you really need is a breakfast packed with slow-release energy – such as porridge or poached eggs on toast – keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout the day will stop you reaching for that chocolate bar.

Next, what can you do to improve your sleep?

Food rules

A large meal before bed can disrupt sleep quality and increase fat storage. Keep your evening meal light and always leave two hours between eating and sleeping.

Power nap

Taking a power nap can increase alertness by 100 per cent for up to four hours afterwards. You need just 30 minutes for an effective natural boost of daytime energy.

Snooze longer

Research found that people who average six hours sleep per night are 27 per cent more likely to be over weight than someone who sleeps 7-8 hours – the recommended nightly amount.

Drink rules

Limit caffeine to before 2pm and opt for herbal or decaf alternatives after this time. Only allow for two to three cups of caffeine per day, as more will keep you up during the night – leaving you sluggish and less likely to hit the gym the next day.

Courtesy of Dr Guy Meadows and Bensons for Beds

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