Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Sleep May Affect Your Weight Loss

"Sleep debt is like credit card debt", says Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

The less you sleep, the worse you feel (tired, irritable, lack of physical energy), the more you eat.  Carbohydrates, like chips, provide a quick pick-me-up.  Further, the more fatigued you feel, the more likely you are to skip your workout.  Ironically, exercise can help you get a better night's sleep, but it's often something that people skip first when they are tired.  Combine eating more with not exercising and you gain weight.  Gain a lot of weight and you get depressed, which directly increases your stress and affects your sleep negatively. 

“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

But, it's not all in your head or, at least, not left on your pillow.  Your eating is directly affected by hormones, some of which are excreted while you sleep.  Two of these are ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat.  When you are sleep-deprived, you have more gherlin.  Leptin is the hormone that helps you stop eating.  You have less leptin when you are sleep-drprived.  The effect is a double whammy:  more ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.

There is an established link between overweight individuals and those with sleep apnea (obstructed airway).  A majority of individuals with sleep apnea are overweight.  This can be attributed to anatomical issues such as neck girth, receded chin, or prominent tonsils , or to metabolic issues such as inflammation and disease.  Losing weight may not help or eliminate sleep apnea, but it may not hinder it, either.

Experts recommend that adults get approximately 7.5 hours of sleep every night.  In fact many people suggest that the sleep you get before midnight is worth twice what you get after midnight.  But, it's not that you have to go to bed hours earlier, it's that the first third of your sleep is the deepest and most restorative.  So, the deeper you sleep, the better you think.  Ultimately, this leads to healthier metabolics (hormones) and stable weight.

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