Get a good night’s sleep to help you lose weight

Most of us think that by simply eating right and being more active we will achieve our weight loss goals. But a good night’s sleep will make your efforts really pay off!

Numerous scientific studies have proven that getting enough quality sleep is a great way to support your weight loss goals. Why? When your body is deprived of sleep, it increases the release of a hormone called ghrelin, which increases appetite and slows down metabolism. You’ll wake up feeling hungrier and your body will burn fewer calories—exactly the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight! Studies have also shown that dieters who were well rested lost weight from body fat, while sleep-deprived dieters lost weight from muscle mass.

The National Institute of Health provides steps on how to improve your sleep habits, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, keeping the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends, and using the hour before bed for quiet time. On those days when it’s just not possible to get the full 7–8 hours of sleep your body needs, here are some tips to help you cope the next day:

• Recognize that you may feel hungrier the next day. Just knowing why you’re hungry will help you make more thoughtful eating choices.

• Load up on protein, especially at breakfast. Add two extra egg whites to your morning omelet. It’s always better to eat more of the right calories!

• If you’re looking for a caffeine boost, have a cup or two of coffee or tea to get your day started. But switch to herbal tea or water after noon so you don’t disrupt that night’s sleep again.

• Since low-energy density foods tend to turn off ghrelin production, have an extra-large green salad (2–3 cups) with a tablespoon of low-fat dressing before lunch and dinner.

• Control your hunger by snacking on veggies. Keep a baggie nearby of ready-to-eat carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers. Munch on these when you start to feel the urge to eat something.

• Rev up your metabolism by taking a walk or exercising.

So the next time your schedule gets too busy and you consider sacrificing a couple hours of sleep, remember that not only will sleep help protect your health and well-being, it will also help you achieve successful weight loss.