Did you know that lack of sleep may be the missing key to your weight loss results? Let me explain why the right amount of sleep is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Why is sleep important?
It refreshes us physically, emotionally, and mentally. It gives our bodies time to repair and grow and our minds time to relax and renew.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
When we are sleep deprived on a short-time basis, it negatively affects our mood, concentration, performance, and metabolism. On a long-term basis, it can contribute to obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, comprimised immunity, and decreased quality of life.
What does a good night’s rest look like?
Our bodies cycle through different types of sleep, called REM and non-REM sleep. About 25% of our sleeping hours are spent in REM sleep, which is an active sleep. Our eyes dart back and forth and we dream. The remaining 75% of the time we are in non-REM sleep, which is restorative, relaxing, and restful. In addition, our body naturally follows a rhythm of energy and sleepiness throughout the day. From around midnight to 7 AM and 1-4 PM our body becomes sleepy. (This can vary person to person depending on your schedule and genes.) But in general, we follow a rhythm throughout the day. Knowing yours can help with maximizing your energy levels throughout the day.
How does sleep affect my weight?
- Sleep deprivation may cause the obesity gene to “turn on.”
- Being overweight may lead to sleep problems which then promotes additional obesity.
- Not getting enough sleep may increase appetite and cravings, especially for carbohydrates.
- Some studies show people ate up to 500 extra calories a day when they didn’t get enough sleep.
- Sleep deprivation can impair glucose tolerance and increase secretions of cortisol, thus increasing our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
What may interfere with my sleep?
- Nighttime exercise
- Large meals
- Chronic pain
- Certain medications
- Poor sleep environment
What can I do to get enough sleep?
The first thing is to rearrange your schedule so you allow for 7-9 hours of sleep. Next, turn off the tv and computer 1 hour before bed. Ensure your room is dark and at a comfortable temperature. Try to go to bed at the same time each night to develop a good routine that is predictable for your body. Do something relaxing before bed, such as stretching, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Last, see your doctor if things interfere with your sleep such as insomnia, medications, shift-work, or snoring.
So tell me, what do you do to ensure a good night’s rest? Do you get enough sleep? Why or why not?
Note: I used the following article in preparing this blog post: “The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk,” By Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 14 No. 6 P. 48. It can be accessed here: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060112p48.shtml