The Importance of Sleep and How it Can Affect Your Weight

sleep

 

With National Sleep Awareness Week during the week of March 11, now is the perfect time to talk about the importance of sleep and its connection to weight. The amount of sleep you get can directly impact your health, both mentally and physically, for better or worse.

The Importance of Sleep

When you get enough sleep every day, your overall health benefits — you have the energy you need to get through the day and perform at your best, you feel mentally alert and you experience a more balanced emotional state.

Consistent lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep, on the other hand, can result in energy depletion, decreased productivity, a foggy mental state, imbalanced emotions and even weight gain.

The Connection Between Sleep and Weight Gain

Recent studies have shown a connection between the number of hours a person sleeps and weight gain. These studies suggest that the chances of weight gain increase when an individual gets either less than five hours of sleep or more than nine hours of sleep.

Why the correlation? According to one study, men who were continually deprived of sleep had an increase in their desires for high-calorie foods and their overall calorie intake increased. In another study, women who slept less than six hours or more than nine hours a night were more likely to gain weight compared to women who slept seven hours a night. Yet another study found that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, resulting in weight gain.

Two theories as to why this occurs are:

1. Sleep duration affects hormones that regulate hunger and stimulate appetite. Basically, when we don’t get the proper amount of sleep, we’re hit with a double whammy: our brains crave junk food and lack the impulse control to say no to those cravings.

2) Those who lack for sleep are always fatigued and, therefore, get less physical activity. This can lead to weight gain or interfere with one’s efforts to lose weight.

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Unfortunately, the number of people getting insufficient sleep and/or not getting the quality of sleep their bodies need to function optimally seems to be increasing. If you fall into the camp of those who need to get a good night’s sleep consistently, try the tips below for improved sleep.

  • Follow a sleep-wake schedule by going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day. Be consistent, sticking to it even on weekends. You’ll notice that you feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours during different time frames each day.
  • Exercise during the day. People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel more awake during the day. Regular exercise can also improve the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual that avoids screens for at least an hour before going to bed (this includes the TV, computers and cell phones). Doing so tells your brain that it’s time to wind down and relax. A few ideas to try are reading a book by soft lighting, taking a warm bath, listening to relaxing music or doing simple stretches.
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol in the evening, particularly close to bedtime. Spicy or acidic foods can cause heartburn and alcohol can interfere with your sleep cycle.
  • Be aware of when you consume caffeinated beverages and foods such as tea, coffee, soda and chocolate. Try not to consume them after 2 PM because caffeine can stay in your system for several hours, negatively affecting your sleep.
  • Set a peaceful environment that’s conducive to sleep. Turn out the lights, as darkness signals your body to release melatonin, the natural sleep hormone, while light suppresses it. Also, keep the temperature around 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature is too hot or too cold, it can interfere with sleep patterns.
Sound a bit overwhelming? Take it one step at a time. Pick the tip that’s most appealing to you or that you feel you can easily incorporate into your daily routine and start with that one. Once you’ve successfully implemented it, pick another one and continue adding one at a time at your own pace.Before you know it, you’ll be getting a great night’s sleep every night and reaping the positive mental and physical benefits.

Patient Testimonial: Nicole E. Faber

patient testimonial

December 2015                                                 May 2016

With the holidays approaching, many of us are trying to decide how we’re going to shift our diet and workout plans to accommodate that extra piece of pie. Last Thanksgiving, high school math teacher Nicole Faber decided she was done with overeating and that she needed to make a change.

Dr. Dirk performed Nicole’s gastric sleeve surgery the day before Christmas, and since then, she’s lost 137 pounds!

What was your life like before the procedure? Did you have any health issues, and were they resolved by the surgery?

I lead a very busy life. I work two full-time jobs and I used to eat when and where I could — mostly fast food. I would try working out and eating healthy, but nothing seemed to stick. I had no health issues at the time of my surgery, but knew that if I continued down the path I was on, I would.

What motivated you to get surgery?

It was the week of Thanksgiving when I, like everyone else, filled my stomach past capacity. I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I knew that I needed help and I couldn’t do it alone.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

In our first meeting, Dallas bariatric surgeon, Dr. Dirk told me that being overweight wasn’t my fault — it was a disease. He explained everything in detail and answered all of my questions leading up to surgery. His staff is so nice — they treat you like a human being rather than a number.

On Christmas Eve, the day after my surgery, Dr. Dirk personally called to check on me. He also called again a week later. He truly is there day or night to answer any questions that you may have.

July 2016
July 2016

How has your life changed since surgery?

I no longer have to take pain medication for aches, pains or joints. Honestly, I haven’t had a headache since the surgery. I also have so much more energy and want to constantly be on the go. The best part is that now, I believe in myself.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

The surgery is not a quick fix. It truly is a lifestyle change. If you never change your diet, you will end up in the same place you started. I have not turned into a total health nut, but I do try to eat healthy. I still drink a protein shake a day. I try to only eat beef one to two days a week. I do have days where I eat a hamburger, but always order it without the bun.

For exercise, I joined a women-only gym that keeps a personal trainer on hand for every workout class. It’s place where I can relieve stress and be around like-minded women. I’ve been working on building muscle to fill in and tone the loose skin after weight loss.

Do you have different outlook on life now? Was there a specific moment after the surgery where you knew your life was going to be different?

My outer appearance has changed drastically, and on the inside, I am much happier with my life now. I am able to give more of myself because I am not as tired, my feet don’t hurt and my muscles don’t ache. That means I am able to spend more time on things I like to do, like hiking, hunting, fishing and working in the garden.

August 2016
August 2016

What has been the response from friends and family?

My friends and family have been very supportive throughout the whole journey. My friends love it because I am a cheap date — I either eat off the kid’s menu or eat off their plate. I had my surgery right before Christmas and was only able to consume liquids. My family even offered to not eat in front of me.

What would you tell someone considering weight loss surgery? Would you recommend Dr. Dirk and why?

I’d say, “Why are you waiting?” It is a lifestyle change, but it is the best decision I have ever made in my life. I highly recommend Dr. Dirk not only for his professionalism, but for his lovely staff, from the office to the hospital.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight and are living a healthier, happier life?

My favorite thing to do after surgery is simply live life. I live life to the fullest every day and feel great about it. I can’t believe I robbed myself of living my life for so long by being overweight.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.