Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Importance of Sleep

It may not be what comes to mind first when you think of weight loss, but sleep is actually a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to losing weight. reports, "studies have shown that people who get an adequate amount of sleep each night (6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep) generally weigh less".  Have you ever noticed that when you get a poor night's sleep, or maybe just not enough sleep, you feel tired and groggy the next day? Big surprise, huh? Well, do you also notice that you are more likely to grab the potato chips or candy bar on those days too? I never really put the two together until I heard about it on a podcast, Dishing Up Nutrition. But now that I know, it's pretty obvious.

I have a hard time getting to bed when I should most nights. That means that I don't usually get enough sleep. And on those nights when I don't get enough sleep, I notice that I am not only grumpy the next day, but I suffer from horrible cravings too. Why is that? Livestrong explains that "Grehlin is a hormone in the body that enhances appetite and can lead to weight gain. Leptin is a hormone in the body that represses appetite and can support weight loss. A lack of sleep disturbs the hormonal balance and the body suffers; the result of insufficient sleep leads to an increase in Grehlin and a decrease in Leptin levels, which inevitably leads to weight gain." WebMD goes on to say that, "... if you aresleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep orgood quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly".

It is reported that each person should get 7.5 hours of sleep or more of sleep each night. That is not just sleep, but good sleep. Waking up several times in the middle doesn't count because your body won't be fooled.

Tips to get a good night's sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine after 2 PM. It's effects can linger long into the evening and disrupt your sleep.
  • Exercise regularly to achieve healthy sleep. 
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed. Also avoid spicy foods which may provoke heartburn and keep you awake.
  • Start and stick to a pattern of going to bed at the same time each night; your body will get used to it and adjust to be ready for it.
  • Start and stick to a pattern of eating healthy at certain times each day. If you plan ahead, you are more likely to stick to eating healthy, which will help you sleep better too.
  • Hydrate well during the day, but avoid excessive liquids before bedtime, which will keep you from getting up multiple times to make trips to the bathroom. 
  • Avoid the computer and television before bed as these tend to stimulate the brain, making it harder to relax. Instead, read a book or write in a journal. These are actives which relax the brain and prepare it for sleep. 

"Adequate sleep is essential for the metabolism and hormones to remain balanced and function properly. Sleep deprivation produces fatigue and stress, and can also lead to other serious health concerns. If you balance your day with sufficient sleep, a healthy diet and moderate exercise, you can retain a healthy weight and feeling of wellness that is beneficial to your overall health." (WebMD)

If you are getting enough sleep each night and still are feeling tired the next day, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about visiting a sleep specialist.

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