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Sleep More, Stress Less, Slim Down, And Look Younger.

Posted Jan 24 2011 9:30am
Except for the few all-nighters I pulled studying for exams in college, I've always made it a habit to get my beauty rest. I was never one who could get by on less than seven or eight hours of sleep for long periods of time. However, early motherhood, when I was up attending to babies in the wee hours of the night, was the one season in my life that was filled with chronic sleep deprivation--and it took a major toll on my body. I looked and felt awful! It seemed like the aging process was kicked into high gear with wrinkles magically creeping up around my eyes overnight. Additionally, after the birth of my youngest it was even harder to lose weight.

I learned first hand the toll that too much of the stress hormone cortisol takes on a body.  Sleep deprivation leads to adrenal glands pumping out too much of this belly fat-promoting, collagen-destroying hormone. However, getting enough sleep keeps cortisol levels down. In fact, a landmark sleep study found that those who sleep between 7.5 and 8.5 hours a night secrete half as much cortisol as those only sleeping 6.5 hours or less a night.

Too much cortisol turns tummies into fat magnets because the abdominal region contains four times more cortisol receptors than other areas in the body.  Researchers have found that women who only slept five hours of sleep a night compared to those who slept seven hours were 32 percent more likely to experience significant weight gain (we are talking 33 pounds or more!) Additionally, this group of women was 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of this 16 year study. 

Researchers have also found that lack of sleep can cause cravings for sweet and salty foods.  Both stress and sleep deprivation make the best intentions to eat more broccoli and leafy greens go out the window. Not only are we eating more, but we end up eating foods lacking any nutritional value.  Neither our waistline nor our skin responds well to this kinds of abuse.

A number of studies have found that sleep deprivation leads to inflammation and oxidative stress. One of these studies found that women who don't get their beauty sleep experience disruptions with their skin barrier function, have more water loss in their skin and have extremely high levels of inflammatory chemicals circulating in their bodies.  If we are under chronic stress, cortisol will disrupt collagen production, making skin thinner and weaker.

If you need more encouragement to turn in early every night, then keep in mind that adults who sleep five or less hours a night have a 15 percent chance of dying early from any reason you can think of. Why? Because lack of sleep ages your body.  So turn off your computer, blackberry, TV or whatever is keeping you up at night and get your beauty rest!

Sources Fat Flush for Life: The Year-Round Super Detox Plan to Boost Your Metabolism and Keep the Weight Off Permanently
The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You.
Your Skin, Younger: New Science Secrets to Reverse the Effects of AGE
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