Sleep Well and Lose Weight
Did you know that lack of sleep leads to more weight gain? As if there weren’t enough things out there to cause us to gain weight, research as shown that a lack of a good night of sleep leads to more wight gain. The mechanism is thought to be related to an increase in hunger and a decrease in some of our impulse control and mindfulness with respect to eating and giving into temptation around food.
I have definitely seen this phenomenon in my own life. After a night on call when I have had very little sleep, I tend to do a very lousy job of eating well the next day. Somewhere in my subconscious I seek to reward myself, or find comfort and pleasure in things like doughnuts and pastry’s in the doctor’s lounge that I would otherwise, usually avoid. I also find that if I have not slept well, or slept enough hours, that it is much harder for me to find the energy or motivation to go for a run or do other exercise. So, none of these are health results from lack of sleep!
So what can you do about it? Well, there are a few, very important practices you can undertake 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. Avoid alcohol beyond two or three ounces of wine and avoid eating a late night meal.
- Find 30 minutes for a brisk walk or other exercise in your day or evening and you will sleep much better.
- Establish a routine in which you sleep in a safe and comfortable environment that is controlled to your likings, in respect to the temperature and darkness.
- Establish your bedtime and stick to it every night. Try to minimize emotionally charged events and activities that occur close to bedtime.
Importantly, many of us have un-recognized sleep disturbances that can only be diagnosed by a formal sleep study. The most common among these is obstructive sleep apnea, a very common condition that occurs as a result of weight gain. It results from airway obstruction of some soft tissues.