Researchers have been studying the sleep habits of various groups of people and have found that those who slept less than seven hours per night had a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) than those who got more sleep. A simple blood test showed those studying the groups that two main hormones that control appetite, Ghrelin and Leptin were in the wrong ratio in the bloodstream, thus causing appetites to peak and the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal to plunge.
Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced in the stomach, and is responsible for those feelings of hunger, when you're not getting enough sleep, the levels rise making you feel hungry all the time. Leptin, the second hormone, is made in your fat cells and suppresses and controls the appetite, when you're sleep deprived, the levels of Leptin decreases, your body never feels satisfied even after a meal, which leads to overeating.
When these two very important hormones are out of whack, controlling the urge to eat is extremely difficult. Most sleep deprived people crave carbohydrate rich foods, bread, pasta, sweets - which help pack on the pounds even more quickly. Let's face it, if all we craved was broccoli, it wouldn't be a problem.
So we need to get these two hormones back in balance, we need to take care of ourselves by getting the rest our bodies need - not the rest we "have time for". The best way to determine the optimal amount of sleep for our bodies is to sleep for as long as your body wants for several days (it's best to plan your experiment around a vacation), until your sleep time stabilizes and you're waking up within about 15 minutes of the same number of hours per night. Once you know how much sleep your body needs, pencil it in! Make sure you carve out enough time in your evening to get to bed so you can get your zzz's.
Sure, sleeping our way thin sounds like some new "dream diet" or an infomercial late at night, but there is scientific evidence that getting the right amount of sleep for your body will help you with your weight loss efforts... Will it miraculously make you drop those last 10lbs just by snoozing... No. But it will help you to have the willpower you need and you'll be less likely to have crazy cravings which will help you on your way to a thinner, more healthy you!