New Moms: Sleep Well and Lose The Weight

Most moms want to lose the pregnancy weight, but who can find time to start a weight loss “program”? It seems it is more difficult than ever to lose weight these days on your own. Foods are more delicious, higher in calories, and more tempting than ever before. A new mom’s life is also busier than ever, and finding time to exercise seems a nearly impossible task most days. But did you know that one of the best things you can do to successfully lose weight is get a good night’s sleep?

Research has shown that the lack of a good night of sleep leads to more weight gain. The mechanism is thought to be related to an increase in hunger and a decrease in some of our internal impulse control mechanisms. After a night of little sleep, moms are tired, hungrier, less mindful of food and snack consumption, and more apt to give in to temptation around food. To make matters worse, tired moms do not have the energy or motivation to exercise. Bad combination: eating more treats and exercising less! No wonder lack of sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity.

So what can you do about it? Here are ten important practices you can undertake today that will maximize better sleeping and therefore help you in your journey to a healthier weight.

  • For starters, don’t consume caffeine or other stimulants in the afternoon or evening.
  • Establish a routine in which you sleep in a safe and comfortable environment that is controlled to your liking, paying attention to the temperature and darkness.
  • Avoid alcohol beyond two or three ounces of wine. Alcohol makes a mom drowsy at first but causes a rebound effect that often wakes her up in the wee hours and impairs rest.
  • Avoid eating a large late night meal. This means a light dinner and no food after 8 PM.
  • Negotiate some nighttime help from your partner so you may sleep more. If he is not a “50-50” parent and objects to this idea, offer win-win solutions like his favorite meal on the weekend or going to a ballgame.
  • Find 30 minutes for a brisk walk or other exercise in your day or evening and you will sleep much better. Push that stroller or strap on the baby carrier.
  • If you are breast-feeding and you feel comfortable doing so, pump and save milk during the day so that your partner can do some of the nocturnal feeding.
  • Establish your bedtime and stick to it every night. Try to minimize emotionally charged events like, arguing with your partner about house cleaning, that occur close to bedtime.
  • Set a goal of six to eight hours every night and stick to it. Once a week allow yourself to sleep longer and erase that sleep debt.
  • Use babysitters, grandparents, partners and friends to allow a few extra hours of sleep for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about this; you need to be healthier for your child.

Importantly, many of us have unrecognized sleep disturbances that can only be diagnosed by a formal sleep study that is ordered by your doctor. The most common among these is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common condition that usually occurs as a result of weight gain, such as with pregnancy. OSA afflicts over ten million Americans and is on the rise. It results from airway obstruction by the soft tissues of the neck and throat. If you snore, cease breathing for ten seconds or more during sleep, sleep restlessly, wake up often in the night, experience morning headaches, or simply feel tired all the time, you may need a sleep study. And you may want to talk to your doctor about things like post-partum depression and alcohol use that impair sleeping.

Often, lack of sleep just seems like a necessity with all the other responsibilities of motherhood that take up time. If you need to lose weight, then sleeping more hours needs to become a priority. So, consider it a good day when the doctor tells you that the first item on your To-Do list toward losing weight is to sleep more hours. Enjoy those extra Z’s and you will feel better and more energetic, and you will be far better positioned to succeed in achieving your weight loss goal.

So sleep more; it’s Doctor’s Orders.

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Dr. Kent Sasse, Medical Director | 75 Pringle Way Suite 804 Reno, NV 89502 | Phone: 775-829-7999

Dr. Kent Sasse serves the entire city of Reno and all the surrounding areas. Dr. Sasse is one of the nation's foremost medical weight loss and bariatric surgical experts.
Dr. Sasse has educated patients about food nutrition and weight loss for many years.

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