You’d expect Don Saladino, trainer to Blake Lively and Scarlett Johannson, to command us to sweat it out via hardcore workouts if we want to look anything like his starlet clients, but there’s something else he believes is paramount to get the body you want—and it’s the easiest step you can possibly take. Saladino recommends inertia—or rather, getting more sleep.
“I’ve increased peoples’ sleep by ninety minutes a night and they’ve instantaneously lost ten pounds in three weeks,” Saladino tells NewBeauty.com. “If sleep isn’t dialed in, and you’re not getting seven to nine hours a night, it’s going to be very difficult to develop the physique you want.”
It can’t be that easy, can it? Well, for once something isn’t too good to be true. Saladino has a point -- and it's backed by science. You could be eating lots of fresh, organic greens, drinking plenty of water, and getting your heart rate up every day, but sleep deprivation can easily halt weight loss right in its tracks despite all your valiant efforts. On the flip side, you can gain weight if you’re not putting in any effort on the diet-and-exercise front. That’s because missing out on sleep affects not only your behavior, but also certain hormones that help your body regulate weight.
“People don’t understand, they think they’re just going to work off the weight but hormonally, your body goes into the tank if you don't sleep. Your hormones stop producing testosterone and growth hormones and your cortisol [stress] levels get thrown off, which can actually lead to weight gain,” Saladino explains.
It’s not just stress — your cravings for food get impacted, too. "The level of leptin [an appetite-stimulating hormone] falls in subjects who are sleep deprived, which promotes appetite,” sleep specialist Richard Simon, MD tells the National Sleep Foundation.
On top of that, research suggests that sleeping less can lead to weight gain simply because you’re awake for longer, giving you more time to nosh. Another study published in 2002 indicated that people who sleep less (fewer than six hours, specifically) were more likely to have irregular meal patterns, eat out at unhealthy restaurants, and snack more often. Lack of sleep can also decrease physical activity because you’re too tired to get moving, according to one 2006 study.
Even if your goal isn’t to lose weight, you should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night in order to give your body a chance to relax, restore, and reboot. Plus, chances are you'll be happier and in a better mood -- and that beats anything (even losing a few pounds).
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