March 19, 2022. If you’re a long-time BCS reader, you know that sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain. And you know that LED lighting will save you a bunch of money and might even contribute to saving the planet. Today’s News Flash: research shows that a clever use of Smart LED lights might help you sleep more and weigh less. Say what?
Turn On Your Night Light
But only if it glows red. Really. Turn your bedroom into a red light district. With a LED bulb that’s color-programmable. White light – cool or warm – when you want full spectrum; red when you want to eliminate exposure to blue light. Because blue light (blue, green and red combine to make white) suppresses your production of melatonin, which regulates your daily wake-and-sleep cycle (your circadian rhythm).
You need lots of white light during the day to boost attention, mood and reaction times. But you really don’t want any at night. Blue light, in particular, is the wavelength you want to avoid. According to the research summarized in the Harvard Health Letter, “Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.” So it’s the light you want when you get up in the middle of the night to … whatever.
And so you might want to consider these programmable Sengled Smart LED lights. As it happens, we’re now in the final two weeks of National Sleep Awareness Month so there’s still time to celebrate.
Research: “Insufficient Sleep Increases Caloric Intake but not Energy Expenditure”.
The older, established research: “Aerobic Exercise Relieves Insomnia“.
Put them together and what do you get? The exercise double-whammy. Exercise burns calories in real-time. And reduces your caloric intake later by contributing to a good night’s sleep. Way Better and Cheaper than sleep medication.
How does this work?
The study published in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, showed that a sleep-deprived (5-6 hours/night) group consumed 549 calories/day more than the control group. 549! That’s like a whole extra meal. A huge Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich.
Even though fewer hours were given to sleep, additional calories were not burned during waking hours. “Contrary to expectations, we observed a trend towards increased circulating concentrations of leptin and reduced concentrations of ghrelin [the appetite-associated hormones], more consistent with a consequence of a positive energy balance than a cause.” The body’s response to less sleep is to balance it with more eating. Even if you just lay there counting sheep.
The report concludes: “Eight days of modest sleep restriction, similar to that encountered in everyday life, was associated with a striking increase in caloric intake with no change in activity energy expenditure … Our data suggest that chronic sleep restriction may be an important and modifiable behavior promoting obesity.“
It’s Always Something
Even if you exercise for an hour a day, you’re still awake for another 15 hours. If you spend too many of them sitting, you’ll have significantly higher risk of “cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome risk factors, and obesity … because any type of brief, yet frequent, muscular contraction throughout the day may be necessary to short-circuit unhealthy molecular signals causing metabolic diseases.” American Diabetes Association, “Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity”. So Don’t Just Sit There!
Many studies have shown that aerobic exercise increases the quality and quantity of sleep. This research at Northwestern University was “the first to examine the effect of aerobic exercise on middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia … The aerobic exercise trial resulted in the most dramatic improvement in patients’ reported quality of sleep, including sleep duration, compared to any other non-pharmacological intervention.”
The exercise that produced dramatic results in 16 weeks: 30 minutes of walking (or stationary biking) 4 times per week. Let’s do the math: the four walks burn a total of about 600 calories per week. Way more important: improved sleep may reduce your daily calorie consumption by nearly that much.
Go take a walk.