We all know how wonderful it feels to get a good night's sleep. But, what you may not know is how wonderful sleep actually is for you and what it means to your waistline.

The upside of hitting the hay

Eight hours or more of shut-eye is proven to improve energy levels, mental focus and memory. It also boosts your immune system and reduces stress.

The downside of staying awake

Lack of sleep saps energy, mental focus and memory, and it can increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

And what it means to your weight

Studies show that lack of sleep correlates with weight gain. As obesity levels skyrocket in the U.S.—2 in 3 Americans are overweight and 1 in 3 is obese—research is beginning to pinpoint the role that sleep plays.

The hows and whys

Here are some of the sleep/weight causes and effects:

  • Hungry, hungry hormones. Your body has two hormones that regulate appetite: leptin (tells your brain when you're full) and ghrelin (tells your brain to keep eating). When you're sleeping, leptin levels are higher and ghrelin levels are lower. When you're awake, it's just the opposite. So the longer you're awake, the more you want to eat. People who sleep only five hours a day have a 15 percent lower leptin level and a 15 percent higher ghrelin level compared to those who sleep eight hours.
  • More hours, worse choices. Since you're awake, not only does your body tell you to eat more, you also have more opportunities to eat. And most late-night/early morning food choices aren't healthy.
  • Energy in all the wrong places. Lack of sleep leaves you slow and groggy the next day. As a result, you may rely on sugary snacks and drinks for an energy boost, taking in the empty calories that go with them. If you're sleep deprived, you're also less likely to exercise.

Sleep better to feel better!

If you've experienced chronic, unresolved sleep issues, it may be time for a comprehensive evaluation.

To find a doctor or speak to a nurse, call Consult-A-Nurse® at (951) 788-3463, 24 hours a day.

Sources: JournalSleep.org, NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov, ScienceDaily.com, WomensHeart.org