Americans are chronically sleep deprived, and our population has a serious weight problem.

Want to know the connection?

If we do not fast at night for 12 hours, then a crucial hormone that regulates our lean body mass gets depleted: human growth hormone.

Your body has a natural rhythm that can help you perform at optimum efficiency, if you are in concert with that rhythm.  You are programmed to eat in the day and to sleep at night.  Both melatonin and human growth hormone depend on this cycle.

There are two important hormones that help regulate the appetite, ghrelin and leptin. The production of these hormones are disrupted by a lack of sleep, making you hungry at times when you don’t actually need food.

“Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep,” said Dr. Raymonde Jean, the director of sleep medicine at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York. “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear.”

Sleeping erratically leads not only to reduced stomach acids and increased stress, but an increase in abdominal fat. Extra weight around your middle can be the most difficult to lose, and the most detrimental to your health.

The body goes into a state of stress when it is deprived of adequate sleep. This puts the body’s functions on high alert, increasing your blood pressure, and increasing production of stress hormones.

In a 2010 study, C-reactive protein (associated with high heart attack risk) was found higher in people who slept six or fewer hours per night.

The increase of stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in your body, also creating more risk for cancer and diabetes.

Researchers believe the high risk for breast and colon cancer in people who work the late shift is caused by the body’s confusion with melatonin levels, which is reduced by exposure to light. Working at night, in a well-lit area, represses the production of the ‘sleepy hormone,’ which is also thought to protect against cancer.

To generate an adequate supply of melatonin, keep your bedroom dark and sleep 7-9 hours to help your body produce the hormones you need.

Healthy Tips:

  • Do not snack after dinner – leave a 12 hour span between dinner and breakfast.
  • Sleep in a dark bedroom 7-9 hours every night.
  • Ask your physician if melatonin supplementation is appropriate for you.