You probably know that diet and exercise are important parts of losing weight. And while sticking to both of these may be difficult, two new studies show that doing one makes the other easier, and gives you a better night’s sleep at the same time.
Exercise Improves Sleep
A recent study by Paul D. Loprinzi and Bradley J. Cardinalat has shown that getting 150 minutes of exercise a week leads to better sleep. This study involving 2,600 men and women showed that just two and a half hours of exercise a week resulted in a sixty five percent improvement in sleep quality. This is important as over a third of Americans have problems falling asleep or feeling tired during the day.
The sixty five percent relates to the decrease in feelings of being overly sleepy during the day for subjects who were physically active. Other benefits of the minimum weekly exercise were decreases in leg cramps while sleeping, and reduced problems concentrating when tired.
Sleep Deprivation Increases Hunger
Another study by researchers Christian Benedict, Samantha Brooks, Helgi Schiöth, and Elna-Marie Larsson, from the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University, has shown that sleep deprivation causes the brain to send out hunger signals regardless of actual need for food.
The researchers took twelve males with normal body weights and imaged their brains using magnetic imaging (fMRI) while they viewed pictures of food. They took these images after the subjects had gotten a night of normal sleep and then after a night with no sleep. The fMRI images showed that when sleep deprived, their brains showed high levels of reaction in the area associated with the desire to eat. This means that a tired brain is a hungry brain, regardless of how much you have eaten.
So the conclusion from these studies is that proper exercise leads to better sleep, and better sleep leads to fewer cravings for food. This means that doing your exercises will actually help you keep on your diet, increasing your chance of weight loss. This research just adds to the positive benefits of getting regular exercise. And if you consider the fact that being overweight can increase sleeping problems, you have a pretty good incentive to get out there and exercise.
Bio: Michelle Gordon is an online publisher and health enthusiast for www.plushbeds.com and writes articles on the topics of sleep and health.
Oregon State University (2011, November 22). Physical activity impacts overall quality of sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from Sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/11/111122143354.htm
Uppsala University (2012, January 18). Lack of sleep makes your brain hungry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2012, Sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/01/120118111740.htm
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