Holy Crap! The Sleep Diet Might Be Real!

I was baffled.

I spent a solid six months, if not more, meticulously watching what I ate, limiting my alcohol consumption to weekends only (OK, occasionally I permitted myself to have a few drinks through the week, depending on what was going on or how the week was going), and exercising five days a week.

And it’s not like those workouts were weak.

If I was short on time, I would go on my 20-minute interval run that has hills of varying degrees. At the end, I’d do one or two hill sprints. If I had a little more time, I would do a half-hour flat run with a couple hill sprints at the end. Generally though, I would go to the gym and do a one-hour class. I went to weightlifting, strength endurance training, spinning/cycling, shadowboxing, yoga, and Pilates gym classes.

I (a devoted night owl) even got to the point where I preferred my early morning workouts.

Yes, I was dedicated because taking care of yourself is important, but I also had the wedding as an enormous incentive to be extra regimented.

With the wedding over, I relaxed my exercise schedule and diet. (Just for a little while, I promise.)

  • Instead of exercising five days a week, I workout two or three times per week.
  • Instead of watching what I eat and drink, I eat and drink whatever I want, whenever I want.

Now, that last one might sound as if I dove into a vat of fast food and beer. It’s not that bad. The only really bad thing I’ve done is eat Burger King, which is my favorite guilty pleasure. I had a medium double Whopper meal. (Oh, it was painful at the end, but it was glorious at the time.)

Other than the Burger King, my diet has been pretty much the same except that my portion sizes (especially on the honeymoon) have expanded.  In addition to that, I have been drinking a few glasses of wine or a few beers almost every night.

All these extra calories and fewer workouts should mean that I’ve gained an easy five-to-10 pounds in the last month.

But I haven’t.

I’m at exactly the same weight I was one week before my wedding.

And I’m fitting into a stubborn pair of jeans better than ever. (Still not perfect but better.)

Are you baffled too?

  • Mr. Man’s theory is that I’m losing muscle mass, and muscle weighs more than fat.
  • My sister’s theory is that I was retaining water weight because of stress before the wedding.
  • My theory is that I haven’t gained weight because I’m getting more sleep on a regular basis now than I have in at least two years.

I was used to getting anywhere from six to seven and a half hours of sleep a night. For the last month, I’ve consistently slept eight or nine hours a night. (It’s been awesome by the way, and yes, it directly correlates to my irregular postings.)

After reading an article in the March 2009 issue of Glamour by Jenny Stamos Kovacs about “the sleep diet,” I think my theory might actually have a scientific basis.

I know from reading countless health news articles every day at my job at WebMD and this article, studies show that, generally speaking, the less you sleep, the more you eat, and the more you weigh. When you’re tired, if your body can’t “fuel up” through sleep, it will kick in hormones to incite hunger so that you “fuel up” through food.

The article does its own sleep test on seven women: They were not allowed to make significant changes to their diets or exercise habits. All they had to do was get at least seven and a half hours of sleep every night for 10 weeks.

Sure enough, all seven participants lost varying degrees of weight and inches.

“…Three weeks into the plan, Braverman easily put on a pair of pants that used to be too snug. And at the two-month mark, Hamilton-Romeo told us, ‘My stomach is getting flatter and my love handles smaller.’ By the end of 10 weeks she’d shaved almost five inches off her waist, hips, bust, and thighs – even though, at 5’4” and 133 pounds, she wasn’t overweight to begin with. The explanation?

‘During deep sleep, your brain secrets a large amount of growth hormone, which tells your body how to break down fat for fuel,’ explains Breus. ‘Deprive your body of deep sleep, and when extra calories get stored as fat, there isn’t enough growth hormone to break it down. So your body takes a shortcut and packs it away in your butt, thighs, belly – wherever you tend to put on weight.’”

So if this is only my fourth week, I wonder what my weight will be at week 10? I’ll let you know.

How much sleep do you get per night? Will you try the sleep diet?

This entry was posted in Diet and Nutrition Goals, Fitness and Exercise Goals, Habits, Happiness Goals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Holy Crap! The Sleep Diet Might Be Real!

  1. Crys says:

    I should try the sleep diet. I know for a fact that when I don’t get enough sleep I can feel my body craving any form of energy it can get. I can also feel it burn through the food that I eat when I’m exhausted. Kevin has two early morning meetings so I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier so that I don’t wake him. I’ll have to look into this though considering my wedding date seems to be approaching faster than I expected it to.

  2. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Yes, your wedding day will sneak up on you. But seriously, I always thought if I got seven hours of sleep I was fine. It is unreal what a difference just one or two more hours of sleep do for you! (I think I’m one of the people who really should get more like eight and a half or nine hours of sleep a night.)

  3. i tend to fall asleep on the couch a lot, then wake up at like 3 or 4 in the morning, move into bed and sleep for another 5 or 6 hours. so i’m getting like 8 to 9 hours a night, but it’s broken up by the time it takes me to move from the couch to bed and then fall back to sleep.

    i’ve maintained my weight for the last few months thou, so it’s probably enough sleep. 🙂

  4. at276601 says:

    Sleep. Glorius, glorious sleep… If only!

  5. Timory Wilson says:

    I get about 5 to 6 hours .. lately. Dating is a bad influence on sleeping. 🙂 I will aim for at least 7 hours, maybe 8 on the weekends and see what happens! I’m glad it’s working for you, Laura!

  6. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    No, I feel ya, many times I am susceptible to the, “Why sleep when I’m having so much fun?” mentality. If I do it too much though, I pay the price: My body hates me.

    I’ll have to hear about your dating stories later!

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