Sleep Is Key For Weight Loss

August 31, 2013

Lack of Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain

Sleep is essential. When we sleep, it is the time our bodies replenish, repair the mental and physical wear-and-tear from the day.

With all of the conveniences of cell phones, computers, PDAs and other means we are use to being “on”!  Some of these habits have created sleep-deprivation for most of us. Without adequate down-time, we experience fatigue, poor health and weight gain. An important factor for successful weight loss is quality sleep. When we are rested, our thinking is clearer and we feel healthier and stronger. We are more apt to make healthy choices in our nutritional intake and higher activity level.

Sleep Stages:
There are stages of sleep which are Non-REM and REM (Rapid Eye Movement). It is important to understand each of them to appreciate how much sleep we need and the necessity of deep, restful sleep.

* Non-REM:
Stage 1: A person is in between wake and sleep, and can be awakened easily.
Stage 2: Light sleep when body temperature drops.
Stage 3 and Stage 4: The stages when a person experiences an increasingly deeper stage of sleep called "delta". The body is repairing itself, building bone and muscle, and releasing certain hormones.

* REM:
This is the stage when a person dreams. It is a stage of greater brain activity but less muscle activity.

Sleep, Hormones and Weight Gain:
Grehlin and Leptin are hormones that help the body control appetite, weight gain and loss. Leptin suppresses appetite; Grehlin increases appetite and may prevent us from losing weight. Lack of sleep can cause levels of Grehlin to increase causing greater appetite; levels of Leptin decrease.

Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain:
Some disorders, including sleep apnea, contribute to obesity. Sleep apnea causes a person to stop breathing for a period of time because the airways are obstructed or blocked. It is most common in overweight persons and is much more than a snoring problem. If untreated, it can lead to heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke.

Here are 13 tips for getting a good night's sleep:
1. Develop a bedtime ritual. Drink a cup of warm herbal tea, take a bath, pray or meditate, read a book or other things you find relaxing and calming
2. Don’t watch T.V., eat or other similar functions in bed. Use your bed for rest only.
3. Take a hot bath before going to bed. This practice will calm and relax you in preparation for bedtime.
4. Don’t exercise or engage in any stimulating activities for 3-4 hours before bed.
5. If getting up in the middle of the night is a problem, avoid drinking beverages 3-4 hours before bedtime.
6. Try white noise. Some people find background noise helpful in getting and staying asleep. You can purchase a white noise player that can play various sounds. Try sleeping with a fan. The low speed on a fan can also provide white noise.
7. Avoid drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
8. Practice breathing exercises to get to rest or if waking in the middle of the night.
9. Make sure the temperature in your bedroom is conducive to resting. Cooler temperatures are best for sound slumber.
10. Check into any medications you are taking as to their side effects. If insomnia or disturbed sleep is an issue with a medication, discuss this with your physician.
11. If you can’t find the switch to turn your brain off and your thoughts are racing, remind yourself that you can’t solve anything and that it is time to rest...thinking can resume in the morning.
12. For some people, taking a nap in the day can have a negative impact on nighttime sleeping. If this is true for you, try not to nap during the day.
13. Set aside enough time for sleeping. You may believe you can get by with only a few hours of sleep but people that sleep longer are healthier. Try sleeping for seven to eight hours for a few weeks and compare the difference in how you feel.

If your sleep disruption continues to persist, talk with your physician. Before you take any over-the-counter sleep medications, discuss with your physician first. Sleep problems can be a symptom of a health issue that needs to be addressed. Any concerns regarding your sleep, whether quality or duration, are best resolved with the assistance of your physician.

Getting your sleeping issues treated may be the first step in successful weight loss, getting back on track or busting through a plateau. In addition to healthy nutrition, exercise, water and vitamins, you can also sleep your way to your weight loss goal.
cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

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