Hill agrees that lack of sleep can “really screw up the whole neuroendocrine chain,” making you eat more by “disrupting the hormones that control hunger and satiety.”
But he urges caution. “I’m convinced [sleep deprivation and obesity] are linked, but I don’t believe the science has proven it.
“We have to be very careful that we’re not giving the wrong message,” Hill says. “I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as you fix the sleep, you fix the obesity.”
Tips for a sound (and slimming?) night’s sleep
Whether or not science ultimately proves that lack of sleep contributes to being overweight, most of us could benefit from catching more Z’s. Sleep disorders specialist Michael Breus suggests these (mostly) simple steps to sounder sleep:
3Pick a sleep schedule and keep it consistent. “If your body knows when to go to bed every single night, it does it, and does it well.”
●Exercise daily. “Exercise helps to reduce anxiety,” one of the main causes of sleep loss. ●But don’t exercise too close to bedtime; stop four hours before lights out.
●Keep a worry journal. Breus says writing down your worries can reduce anxiety’s grip.
●Limit pre-bedtime activity. “The time right before bed should be spent doing three things: the stuff you need to do to get ready for the next day, such as getting the kids’ backpacks ready; personal hygiene; and relaxing time.”
●Don’t consume caffeine after 2 p.m. Caffeine can keep you awake eight to 10 hours after you ingest it.
●Stop imbibing three hours before lights out. “Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it keeps you out of that deeply restorative stage of sleep.”
●First thing in the morning, get 15 minutes of sunlight. “That’s the easiest way to reset your circadian rhythm,” the internal system that regulates your sleep.
A sleep-inducing smoothie
This recipe from Michael Breus’s book uses dairy’s natural relaxant properties and an ideal carb-protein ratio to make you drowsy when consumed shortly before bedtime:
• 1 container (6 ounces) low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 ripe banana, coarsely chopped
2 cup fat-free milk
4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 graham cracker, crushed
Combine the yogurt, banana, milk and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass. Sprinkle with the graham cracker.
Per serving: 249 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 11 mg cholesterol, 175 mg sodium, 45 g total carbohydrates (37 g sugars), 1.5 g fiber, 13 g protein