Sure, it’s impossible to eat while you’re sleeping, but that’s not the reason snoozing is good for your waistline. There are scientific reasons why getting enough shut-eye may support your weight management efforts. Shedding unwanted pounds requires a certain amount of sacrifice, like choosing a workout over a social activity or eliminating guilty pleasures from your diet. But, research suggests that there is one indulgence you might not want to skimp on when it comes to successful weight management: sleep.

The Goldilocks Factor

Weight management is impacted by a complex web of factors, including—but not limited to—genetic and behavioral variables. Emerging research suggests that both individuals who sleep too little and individuals who sleep too much seem to be more prone to weight gain. Weight management is impacted by a complex web of factors To stack the odds in your favor, aim to get 7-8 hours of solid shut-eye every night.

It’s About Quantity and Quality

For optimal weight management support, not only do you need to get enough sleep, but you also need to get good sleep. When possible, avoid eating a high-fat or carb-heavy meal just before hitting the sack, as it may disrupt your slumber as your body works to digest all the food you consumed just before climbing into bed. If you do experience overnight discomfort, there are newer probiotic options that may provide digestive support while incorporating melatonin and valerian to support restful sleep.

Try a Lean Protein Nightcap

Need a bedtime snack? Consuming a small amount of protein supplies your body with amino acids, which are necessary for muscle repair. But, keep in mind—this strategy only works if the added protein doesn’t cause you to exceed your allotted daily calorie budget.

Lights Out, Game On

Investing in blackout shades and eliminating all sources of light can vastly improve the quality of your sleep. Ambient light from technological devices, artificial lighting and outside street lights interfere with your body’s production of melatonin and prevent your metabolism from working properly. You should also avoid watching TV as you are trying to fall asleep—the light coming from the screen activates your brain and can keep you awake longer.

Nothing to Lose, But Weight

One potential explanation for the connection between sleep and weight management may be related to the effect slumber has on circulating levels of certain hormones and other biochemical messengers in your body. There is emerging research to suggest that getting insufficient shut-eye may impact key markers associated with metabolism. The jury is still out, as studies are ongoing, but given the numerous proven benefits associated with consistently getting adequate sleep—why not make it a priority?

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