Thursday, October 24, 2013

Weight gain and sleep?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

So what's the number one health issue for individuals in the United States? If you have guessed weight gain, you are right on.

So what do so many people do about this? Here is the typical list of weight loss strategies that most follow with consistency.
  • Dietary changes
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Eliminating late night snacks
  • Dealing with emotional eating
  • Eating at home more often
  • Exercise
  • Normalize hormones
  • Follow anti-inflammatory protocols
What I want to share is that all of these are awesome weight loss strategies, but how many of you have already addressed these yet still do not reach your weight loss goals? This number is likely staggering and here's one significant reason why?

Understand that based on the lives that most of us chose to live, there is truly very little free time. We often find the hours between 9:00PM and 11:00PM as our "catch up" time. You get it, so much to do all day, maybe the kids are finally in bed or one of the many other reasons for this. Regardless of the why, far too many people are getting to bed too late and creating significant deficiencies with their sleep patterns.

Here's the kicker though. If you are not reaching your bodies individual need for sleep, you will likely gain weight or minimally, this will significantly hinder weight loss for you. Did you know that if you do not get enough sleep your body will increase the production of your appetite hormone called ghrelin which is likely to lead to weight gain. Another factor in the lack of sleep in the longer term effect this has on your adrenal function and the production of another hormone cortisol, which is often the cause of that ever so beautiful weight gain around the midsection. I know, yikes!

Now a fascinating new study suggests that the link may be even more insidious than previously thought. Losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain. I would recommend that you follow this link to an insightful article that addresses this even further. 

One point that I found very interesting in the research is that individuals that are sleep deprived actually burn 111 more calories per day than those that are getting optimal sleep, so what sense does that make? It makes a lot of sense though when you remember that a lack of sleep increases the ghrelin which causes the sleep deprived individuals to eat far more food than those that achieve optimal sleep. Think about how quickly you can consume food to make up that 111 calories. Eating one banana, that most would think is great for weight loss, will make up 105 of those calories, yet the sleep deprived person is going to eat far more than just one extra banana per day. They are actually likely to feast daily. 

The end result? Weight gain!

Throw on top of this that a lack of sleep can age fat cells 20 years and yes I said  20 years. This has an effect on overall metabolism and your body's ability to regulate glucose and insulin properly thus leading to obesity and diabetes.

So if you find yourself as one of those people that is doing everything they can think of to lose weight and it's simply not happening for you, check in on your sleep habits. This could be the missing link for you. 

Regardless of what's causing your sleep problems, it is important to establish and maintain healthy sleep habits. Here are some tips that will help you sleep well:

At night:
  • Use the bed and bedroom for sleep and sex only
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • Do not eat or drink too much close to bedtime
  • Create a sleep-promoting environment that is dark, cool and comfortable
  • Avoid disturbing noises – consider a bedside fan or white-noise machine to block out disturbing sounds
  • Shut down one hour before bed (no phone, TV or Internet)
During the day:
  • Consume less or no caffeine, particularly late in the day
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially close to bedtime
  • Exercise, but not within three hours before bedtime
  • Avoid long naps, particularly in the late afternoon or evening while a short nap in the afternoon can be beneficial
Some medications can also lead to insomnia, including those taken for:
  • Colds and allergies
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Birth control
  • Asthma
  • Pain medications
  • Depression (especially SSRI antidepressants)
So in the end, what's the moral of the story?

Get to sleep!!!

For additional information on sleep visit these past articles.

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