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Oct 9, 2010


Adults need 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep per night consistently to maintain normal energy levels, muscle tone and immune function. When you stay up late night after night for any reason (whether to finish work left undone at the office or to wind down by watching late night TV), your body undergoes metabolic and hormonal changes.
Chronic sleep deprivation slows your metabolism so you feel less energetic and you store fat instead of burning it. It limits secretion of human growth hormone which keeps muscles toned. It blunts immune function rendering you more susceptible to colds, flu, infectious disease and inflammatory disease.
A new study by sleep specialists and endocrinologists at the University of Chicago published in the October 5, 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to our understanding of how chronic sleep deprivation causes fat gain and muscle atrophy. These researchers followed 10 overweight adults (with a mean age of 41) years on a calorie restricted for two weeks at a hospital. Half the group was permitted to sleep 8 hours per night and the other half just 5.5 hours per night. The sleep deprived group lost 55% less fat and lost 60% more lean muscle mass than the group that slept well.
The endocrinologists ascertained that the sleep deprived group experienced an increase in the levels of the hormone ghrelin (which is supposed to make people hungry when they haven’t eaten for a while) and a decrease in the hormone leptin (which puts the brakes on appetite after people have eaten sufficient food). Too much ghrelin makes and too little leptin leads to strong appetite even when your calorie needs have been met. Sleep deprived people crave foods packed with refined sugar and bad fats -  partly to rev up their slowed metabolism and increase energy and partly because their metabolic hormones are out of whack.
Too much consumption of refined sugar, partially hydrogenated fat and transfat leads to clogged arteries, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. We now know that staying healthy and avoiding these terrible conditions is not just a matter of what you eat and how frequently you exercise but how much you sleep each night on a consistent basis. Do yourself a favor. Leave the unfinished work for the next work day instead of burning the midnight oil; and skip the lousy late night talk shows and infomercials.

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