Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How Sleep is Related to Obesity

In all my years of ‘dieting’ and following every program under the sun (almost) it was only last year that someone told me that going to bed at a regular time and sleeping for 8 hours every night would help with weight loss.


OK, I believed them….after all, I was paying these folks to give me good weight loss advise.

I believed them, but they could not tell me why it was true. I just assumed that it was simply that our bodies work better all around when they are properly rested.

Then I read an article in Better Homes and Garden’s “Heart Healthy Living” magazine. (Winter 08 issue) OK, obviously I’ve had this magazine around for awhile before I actually read it – or else the store was selling old copies…..I found it in a suitcase so it could be either case.

I will not (of course) copy the entire article (Change your Bedtime Story by Linda Wasmer Andrews) but I want to highlight a couple facts that are made in it…..

During normal sleep, among other things, the body increases its production of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone, and decreases production of ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone.

When your sleep is disturbed, your body suffers in many dangerous ways. Along with irregular heart rhythms, chronic health problems, and increased risk of stroke, “research has shown that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be obese and prefer foods high in calories and carbohydrates. One possible reason: Lack of sleep is linked to higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach and upper intestine that stimulates appetite.”

So, basically, we don’t sleep….we are hungrier…..we eat more….we get fat(ter)…..

Worse, obesity is directly related to Sleep Apnea….which disturbs our sleep several times each night…..meaning, we do not sleep….our appetite stimulating hormones are produced in greater amounts….we eat more….we get fatter….our sleep is more disturbed…..

It seems to be a vicious cycle.

This is one way that losing weight can improve the quality of our lives.

I have suffered with sleep apnea for years – long before people started talking about it – I just didn’t know why I was always so sleepy. Believe me, going through life always on the verge of nodding off is not nice!

Since I started losing weight, this aspect of my life has improved dramatically. I still have days where I can tell that I did not sleep much the night before – because in spite of spending a good 8 hours ‘asleep’, I am almost too sleepy to function. Those days have become few and far between, however.

I now know that as I continue to lose….. my sleep patterns will continue to improve…..the appetite suppressing hormones will increase…..I will want to eat less…..I will lose weight…..I will sleep better……

The cycle will continue to improve, making me a healthier person over all.


Aimee said...

enlightening! thanks so much for sharing...just another reason to get in my 8 hours! :)

Becca55 said...

Yes thank you for sharing this, I love to learn new things. I always knew that it was good for you to get 8 hours of sleep, now I know more of why it is important!

Herbalife Las Vegas said...

Excellent information. I work late hours in a casino and it is hard for me to have a regular sleep pattern, however I do tend to sleep plenty.
Keep up the good info.

MizFIt said...

so true.
and something I SO lived for the past 3 yrs with my Toddler. She finally seems to be sleeping and my bod is uber thanful.

GREAT post and information...

Isolde said...

Actually my opinion is the researhers have it backwards. If you google "ghrelin" and "REM sleep" you find a significant amount of research being done in this area. Here's how it happens for me. I restrict caloric intake juxtaposed my activity level. My ghrelin levels spike--I'm so sensitive to them at night that I wake up depriving myself of REM sleep. W/out that rest I go insane over food the next days. The lack of REM sleep really kicks in after 10 days of calorie restriction. The minute I up my food intake, I sleep well again.

Something to think about --not the first time scientists have gotten things backwards until someone straightened things out.

Enjoyed the discussion.


Karyn said...

Isolde.... that makes sense, but how do you measure your ghrelin levels?

It does make sense that lack of calories would trigger a hormone that makes you hungry - as a way for your body to tell you to eat.

Who knows what is the exact truth? the fact is that lack of REM sleep is dangerous to our overall health.

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