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Does Sleep Help You Lose Weight?

In every guide for losing weight or maintaining a fit lifestyle, there’s always a note about getting more sleep or adhering to healthy sleeping patterns. But, what’s the science behind this? How does sleeping more or sleeping better help our bodies, especially when we want to lose weight?

Sleep can be just as important as your diet and exercise. In fact, a lack of sleep could just be what’s stopping you from reaching your fitness goals despite your hours at the gym and constant clean eating. When we think of weight loss, we usually think of cutting back on calories and being more physically active. The key, however, is balance, especially if you ascribe to a fast-paced and stressful lifestyle. Balance includes rest and regeneration, and there’s no better way to achieve that than through sleep.

Getting enough sleep is so crucial to one’s health that, according to one report, sleep deprivation kills 3,000 Australians each year. This number of deaths were all linked to sleep deprivation. The study also concluded that 9.8 percent of Australian adults experience some form of inadequate sleep. Aside from affecting our energy levels, sleep also influences our food cravings, calorie intake, fat cells, metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

fitness training toowongIn terms of research, weight loss and sleep have been proven to be linked. One study observed that when dieters are put on varied sleeping schedules, they also lose a varied amount of weight. Getting enough sleep made them lose fat, but less hours for sleep resulted in half that amount of fat loss. The participants also felt more hungry and lacked energy to exercise when they cut back on sleep.

An important factor in weight loss is our appetite and sleep or lack of can affect our calorie intake. One study with participants on four hours of sleep eat 559 more calories than those who got eight hours of sleep. Other studies have also observed that these extra calories are consumed as post-dinner or late-night snacks, which can make falling asleep more difficult and affect digestion.

If you have a hard time battling cravings, ask yourself if you’re getting enough sleep. Leptin is a hormone that is crucial in resisting tempting foods and making healthy choices. When the body produces less leptin, the more the stomach feels empty. Our cravings are also affected by the hormone ghrelin, the more of which increases appetite and the amount of fat the body stores. Sleeping less than six hours has been found to decrease leptin and increase ghrelin. Another vital hormone is cortisol or the stress hormone. The more stressed we are, the more cortisol is produced and this can persuade us to reach for sugary junk food as well as gain more fat.

Metabolism is also a significant factor as we still burn calories when we’re at rest. Our resting metabolic rate or RMR could be lowered due to sleep deprivation. According to one research, keeping awake for 24 hours decreased RMR by 5 percent compared to a regular amount of rest. Lack of sleep can also result in a reduction in muscle mass which leads to a reduction in metabolic rate which can lead to storing additional energy as fat.

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Exercises You Can Do at the Office

Sitting all day is detrimental to your health. If you’ve seen friends or co-workers getting “standing desks,” then they’ve probably been told that sitting all day can slowly kill them. But it’s true, there are some truly adverse effects that happen from sitting down all day. It might seem like an exaggeration, but you can risk high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, premature death, and certain types of cancer. One of the reasons is because you burn fewer calories sitting down. Experts recommend moving every 20 to 30 minutes, but what if you’re too busy at the office for a quick stretch break? And no, trips to the bathroom and kitchen don’t count.

You don’t need to do laps around the office or run up and down the building stairwell. To combat the health risks of sitting down all day, it’s a matter of staying physically active. Fortunately, there are a number of discreet but effective exercises you can perform right from the convenience of your desk. The only equipment you’ll need is your office chair and dumbbells or a full water bottle.

Wrist Stretches

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If you’re clicking and typing away all day, make sure your fingers and hands don’t end up stiff. Extend one arm in front, palm up and take the fingers with your other hand. Gently pull back your fingers towards you, stretching your forearm. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with your other wrist. You can also press your hands together in front of your chest with your arms and elbows parallel to the floor. Bend your wrists to the right and to the left 10 times.

Lower Back Stretch

Prone to slouching? Take the strain off your spine. Sit tall and place your left arm behind your left hip. Gently twist to the left. Use your right hand to deepen the stretch and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Leg Exercises

If you’re feeling a little wobbly when you get up after hours and hours of sitting, take a moment to get the blood flowing in your legs. Sit tall and engage your core. Extend your left leg until it’s level with your hip and squeeze your quadriceps. Hold this for two seconds, then lower. Repeat 16 times and then take it to the other side. You can also even throw in an inner thigh workout. Place a firm water bottle in between your knees and squeeze the bottle. Release your hold halfway and squeeze again. Complete 16 reps of slow pulses.

Squats and Dips

You might look a little funny doing these exercises, but you won’t be the one complaining about a sore butt later! Just be sure you keep your chair stable. To do a chair squat, lift up your hips just hovering over the chair with your arms out for balance. Hold this for 2 to 3 seconds. Stand all the way up. Repeat this for 15 reps. To do a dip, place your hands next your hips. Move your hips in front of the char and bend back the elbows while holding onto the chair. Lower your body until your elbows are out at 90 degrees. Push back and return to starting position. Do 15 reps.

Weights

You can stash a dumbbell or two in your drawer or underneath your desk, but if that’s not possible, a full water bottle will do in a pinch. You can first try a bit of weight training with your arms. To do a bicep curl, hold your dumbbell in your right hand, making sure your core is engaged and your spine is straight. Curl the dumbbell towards your shoulder. Repeat 15 times and do the same with your left side. Ab exercises are also totally possible behind your desk. Hold your dumbbell at chest level. Keep your knees and hips forward. Gently twist as far as you can (whilst sitting ‘tall’) and feel your abs stretch. Twist back to the centre and move to the left. Repeat 10 times.