Nutrition expert and trainer Harley Pasternak discusses the connection between sleep and weight loss and offers tips on how to get your best rest, reports People.

If you’re not getting enough sleep — for most people that means at least 7 hours of shuteye every night, but read on — your weight-loss efforts could be significantly hampered. Research reveals that sleep-deprived people eat more, particularly the refined carbohydrates that can pack on pounds, and as a result, have a harder time losing weight.

One study conducted in a sleep lab by researchers at the University of Colorado controlled the number of hours volunteers slept. Getting just five hours of sleep actually raised their metabolism, but compared to those who were allowed to sleep nine hours, the sleep-deprived subjects gained an average of 2 lbs. in a week. So, while they burned more calories while awake, their increased appetite more than made up for the difference.

When your sleep is curtailed, two crucial hormones get out of whack: levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, rise; meanwhile, levels of leptin, which signal satiety, fall. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol also rise. The result is that you have a harder time dealing with hunger. This may explain the relationship between inadequate or interrupted sleep and weight, but leaves unanswered the question of why we are not sleeping as well, or as long, as we should be.

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