health

Who knew? The secret to a flat tummy lies in your bed.

Before I say anything else, let me say this: You do not need to have an Instagram-perfect, flat stomach.

You just don’t.

In fact, as I write this, I can feel the lower portion of my belly gently folding into itself. Why? Because I enjoy one too many croissants on a daily basis, and I am A-OK with that.

However I – like practically every woman I have ever met – am self-conscious from time to time. So if there’s a tip on how to flatten my tummy that doesn’t require me giving up my passion for croissants, I’ll be paying attention.

Particularly when a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and author says the secret to a flat stomach lies in my bed, not just on my breakfast plate.

“There are less painful and longer lasting ways to get the amazing middle we crave,” Kathleen Alleaume wrote in an article for News.com.au on Friday morning.

Sleep, you guys. She’s talking about sleep. (Post continues after gallery.)

You see, how much you slumber actually hugely impacts your body. More specifically, a lack of sleep is closely linked to obesity, diabetes, heart issues, and a tendency to catch a common cold.

The reason catching Zzzs has such a significant impact on your tummy has everything to do with your body’s regulation of the hormone insulin.

In simplest terms, your fat cells need their fair share of shut-eye in order to function properly. Without it, they become what Alleaume calls “‘metabolically’ groggy”.

SO METABOLICALLY GROGGY. (Image: iStock)

The flow-on effect of not getting enough sleep is drastic.

Poorly regulated insulin affects the hormones that control your appetite, namely leptin and ghrelin. When Grehlin is sent out of whack, you feel increasingly hungry, even when your body doesn't need food. What's worse? Your leptin drops, making you feel less satisfied, even when you're eating more.

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These changes naturally make us reach for high-sugar/high-fat foods, which of course are more calorific.

There are a few things Alleaume says you can do about this sleepy conundrum.

Firstly, get to bed earlier, so you allow yourself to get a full eight hours of snooze time. Secondly, charge your phone across the room, so it's not a distraction within arms reach.

As Alleaume says, "the more [sleep] you get, the more fat you burn — so you can put crunches last on your flat-belly list."

How much sleep do you get each night?