I LOVE to sleep – who doesn’t?
Sleeping is not a hardship, it’s not demanding and it requires very little effort on our part.
So what if I told you it was possible to lose weight just by lying in bed?
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well pull on those PJs and hit the lights because that’s exactly what experts are now claiming.
We spend a third of our lives sleeping and it is an essential part of our everyday routine, along with breathing, eating and drinking.
It revitalises us, yet it is the first thing we are willing to give up in the name of work or socialising.
But now studies have shown that regularly sleeping for less than six hours a night can cause weight gain. So why is this?
Well there’s the obvious reasons: when we stay up we tend to eat more, snacking on the contents of the fridge late into the night.
The next day we might decide to ‘skip’ a gym session because we’re exhausted and grab sugary snacks to give our tired bodies a boost.
Calories, calories, calories... and no energy to burn them off!
More technically speaking it’s also believed to lead to an increase in the hormone that triggers appetite. That is quite a price to pay, just to stay up and watch the end of a film!
This is worrying for me as I know I regularly get less sleep than I should.
At a consultation with James Wilson from Sheffield’s We Love Sleep clinic, I confessed that I often feel exhausted through the day, particularly late in the afternoons, which makes exercise difficult and causes me to rely too heavily on caffeine.
After monitoring me for a week James was satisfied he’d come to the root of the problem.
“You don’t sleep enough,” he said.
“Sleep is as essential to the body as nutrition and hydration and you have to take it seriously.”
This information wasn’t a shock. A cocktail of house renovations, work commitments and personal stresses mean that I’m often falling into bed at 1am and staggering out of it around 6.30am.
But the truly scary thing?
Experts also believe that too much sleep can cause weight gain. Meaning that our Saturday morning lie-ins could actually be causing us to put on pounds!
Somewhere between six and eight hours is considered the optimum ‘sweet time’ when it comes to sleep.
More than eight and the benefits start to cancel out (I’m afraid the ‘why’ is still a bit of a mystery).
With only 21 days of the Get Celeb Fit Challenge left, I’m not taking any chances.
What we’re talking about is a skilled balancing act.
“Too much sleep can have a detrimental effect on fitness,” confirmed James.
“Your body needs enough sleep to be energised, but when the battery is charged, we should be up and active.”
You don’t need to tell me twice. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to purchase a slumber mask and some low fat Horlicks.
CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Regulate your night-time routine so you’re heading to bed at the same time every night and allow for a solid eight hours. Try it for a week and see how you feel!