It’s appropriate to be informed and selective about what you eat. However, beyond the need to avoid super-sized, highly processed foods, what we eat may be a lot less important than the 1000’s of diets and weight loss programs would suggest; what we eat may be less than half the equation that determines our appetite, metabolism and body weight.
We now know that appetite and metabolism are intricately related to sleep and light exposure. One recent study found that just a single night of insufficient sleep leads to increased appetite and the consumption of 350 to 500 more calories than are consumed after a night of 7 to 8 hours sleep. These findings fit with other studies demonstrating that shortened sleep duration (less than 6-7 hours) results in decreased levels of a hormone, leptin, which in turn slows metabolism and increases appetite. Light at night and sleep loss also increase a stress hormone, cortisol, which in excess causes a diabetes-like increase in blood glucose and increased abdominal fat storage.
Fortunately, it’s not necessary to be a scientist and understand all the details of these studies in order to use the timing of meals, light, activity and sleep in your daily schedule to help you control your weight. Using published research data on how light, food, sleep and activity timing affect metabolism and appetite, we at AuraViva are building mobile applications to help you shift your daily routines toward times and cycles that support healthful weight control. We are targeting mid-December to launch the first application. If you want us to let you know when the application launches and receive a 2 week free trial, sign up for our newsletter. Want to learn more about the science of sleep, light, metabolism and appetite? Then check out the circadian rhythms section of our website.