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How can getting enough sleep help me maintain an ideal weight?

One underappreciated aspect to sleep that is especially influential to our sense of well-being is its control of our hormonal cycles. So much of our circadian rhythm—the cycles our bodies experience throughout the twenty-four hour day—revolves around our sleep habits. A healthy day/night cycle is tied into our normal hormonal secretion patterns, from those associated with our eating habits to those that relate to stress and cellular recovery.

Growth hormone (GH), for example, does more than just stimulate growth and cell reproduction; it also refreshes cells during the night when you’re sleeping, and is a powerful player in your ability to maintain an ideal weight. GH effectively tells your cells to slow up on using carbs for energy and asks them to use fat instead. But you can’t get an ample supply of GH unless you’re getting your Zs. GH prefers to come out at night. As soon as you hit deep sleep, about twenty to thirty minutes after you first close your eyes, and then a couple more times throughout the night in your sleep cycle, your pituitary releases high levels of GH, the most it’s going to secrete in twenty-four hours. So, without that sleep, GH stays locked up in the pituitary, which negatively affects your proportions of fat to muscle. Over time, low GH levels are associated with high fat and low lean muscle—not to mention old eyes and that nagging, chronic, not-so-fresh look and feeling. Let GH loose by getting restful sleep.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.