(I posted this last August, but I'll do it again since I'm currently on this weightloss kick.)
Finally, a way to fight obesity that isn't about dieting and exercise -- make sure you get enough sleep! An article in the July/August 2005 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter (scroll down the homepage to "2005 Highlights" and download the PDF "Special Feature: Perchance to Eat: How Sleep Affects Your Weight") says sleep deprivation, for as little as two nights in a row, causes an increase in the hormone that triggers hunger (ghrelin) and a decrease in the hormone that causes satiety (leptin).
Lack of sleep also messes with your metabolism. When the brain notices the decrease in leptin, it interprets it as a sign of starvation and slows the rate at which you burn calories. So not only does a lack of sleep cause you to feel hungrier, it causes your body to burn fewer calories! A nightmare situation for those of us who are trying our best to fight American blobitude.
How much sleep are we talking about? The article reports:
And researchers at Columbia University in New York City found that people who slept six hours a night were 23 percent more likely to be obese than people who slept between seven and nine hours. Those who slept five hours were 50 percent more likely -- while those who slept four hours or less were 73 percent more likely -- to be obese.
So turn off the light and get some sleep already!