HEALTH: Want to Lose Weight? Go to Bed Earlier

When it comes to losing weight, most people find it hard to change the behaviors that got them into trouble in the first place. It's challenging to improve food habits, or get yourself moving instead of sitting on the couch.

Did you know that the amount that you sleep can have a direct effect on whether you’re a healthy weight or overweight? Are you aware of the minimum hours of sleep that you need, to give yourself the best chance at succeeding with a weight loss program?

Believe it or not, we humans used to sleep an average of 9 hours a night in the early 1900’s. Today, the average night’s sleep is only 7 hours a night. I’ve often wondered why I seem to need 8-9 hours, ideally – looks like it might actually be normal for our bodies.

According to sleep experts, we need 7-8 hours just to be able to function “normally” in the daytime. Oops! I only got just over 6 last night, I stayed up too late again, chatting with friends. I’m a night owl, and am particularly bad if I’ve gotten some good sleep in the night before. I seem to think that after a great night’s sleep I can get away with less the next night, but I’m actually really sabotaging my health, mood and productivity by doing that.

Did you know that being a “night owl” can actually make you more likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? And if you develop SAD, you will likely experience food cravings for carbohydrates that can actually account for the phenomenon of “winter weight gain”. Yikes! So, if you’re a night owl, going to bed earlier will not only help protect your good mood in winter, but will also protect you from gaining those extra pounds.

Also, chronically limiting your sleep is directly linked to weight gain. If you only sleep 6 hours a night, you’re almost 25% more likely to be obese (not just overweight, but obese) than someone who’s getting 8 hours a night. Which person do you want to be?

When you sleep less than 6 hours a night, your body produces a “hunger hormone” ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite and causes you to crave carbohydrate-rich and fatty foods. Talk about a nightmare.

When you get enough sleep, your body produces a satiety hormone, leptin, which naturally curbs your appetite. Crazy, but true. Just imagine how much easier it will be for you to make healthy food choices if you just. get. enough. sleep.

There you have it: the optimal weight loss plan should start with getting enough sleep. My hope is that you’ll discover that it’s far easier to lose weight than you thought, because you’re physiologically empowered to make better choices and eat less.

Weight loss isn’t easy. I don’t mean to make light of that fact, but there’s no question that being more rested will help you win in so many ways.

Now stop reading this, and get to bed!

Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a wellness expert, life and health coach, professional speaker, and flamenco dancer. She has been featured as an expert on the Today Show and other media outlets, and is available for keynote presentations, workshops, and private coaching. Visit to receive a complimentary eBook, Ten Essential Easy Changes—Boost Mood, Increase Energy & Reduce Stress by Tomorrow.

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Copyright Dr. Susan Biali 2017

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