The Importance of Sleep and How it Can Affect Your Weight



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.

Explaining the Duodenal Switch weight loss surgery procedure

The Duodenal Switch has been getting a lot of press and internet activity.  It is being hailed and the next best weight loss surgery.  The best explanation of Duodenal Switch is on my  Dallas weight loss surgery website. The simplest explanation is that it combines a Gastric Sleeve with a long Bypass. The medical thought process is that it will use the appetite suppression of the Sleeve and the powerful hormone / chemical changes of the Bypass.

The Switch requires very strict following of nutrition (high protein, low carb), vitamins (multi- vitamins, B vitamins and minerals). The long bypass part of the switch changes how the body absorbs the important stuff. All Switch patients will be taking a good multivitamin twice a day, a B complex vitamin once a day (one that has not only B-12 but all the other B’s, too), Calcium AND Vitamin D, and Magnesium.  Hey Dr. Dirk! That sounds great! Sign me up for 2!

Not so fast! Like all obesity operations, they are all different and one size definitely does not fit all.

There are obesity surgeons that believe the duodenal switch is for everyone (not Dr Dirk).  There are a great number of surgeons who feel the duodenal switch procedure is too complicated and therefore too risky (again, not Dr Dirk).If you have been reading my blog, you know that I treat each patient individually. I take each individual patients medical health in to consideration.  It was once believed that the Switch was only good for patients whose BMI was 60 or more.

Dallas weight loss surgery

With ongoing research, the Switch is also a great operation for patients who have had a prior obesity operation that is not working for them, meaning not only weight regain but return of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea.  Remember, obesity operations are designed to improve health AND get rid of or improve medical conditions, by helping you lose weight. Not making you lose weight.

The good thing about the Switch is what I just said.

The bad thing about the Switch – it is a bigger operation. It requires more technical skill on the part of the surgeon, particularly if it a re-do / revision (changing one operation to another) surgery. It there is a complication (something goes wrong) the recuperation after correcting that problem is going to be pretty long.

The most important thing about the Switch- the Switch does not play. You must practice good  nutrition and you must take all of your vitamins and supplements for the rest of your life!  Any patient that stops practicing good nutrition and does not take or quits taking their vitamins, mineral and supplements, the Switch is the quickest road to malnutrition, anemia, irreversible vitamin deficiencies, hair loss, nerve problems (neuropathy) and bone loss (calcium deficiencies / osteoporosis / bone fractures).

The Switch can have an unpleasant side effect. Switch patients can experience frequent loose, smelly (read toxic-kill small animals in flight-peel wallpaper off the walls – uncontrollable tearing of the eyes – mass exodus) you get the picture. Simple solutions to this effect is time, good nutrition, Beeno® and chlorophyll  supplements ( found in health food stores or section of your grocery store).

Do I have your attention?!

Uh, Dr. Dirk, forget signing me up. I’ll get back to you later.  Hey! Not so fast. The Switch is a great   operation. My professional opinion is this surgery is fantastic for patients who are mega morbidly obese (BMI>60). It is also a good option for patients with a previous obesity surgery that is no longer helping them be healthy AND regaining weight.

Since the Switch is a technically demanding operation, patients with previous pelvic or lower belly surgery (open hysterectomy, colon or rectal surgery, small bowel surgery). Patient with severe asthma or any medical condition that requires steroids (Prednisone) might not be able to have the Switch.  If you feel the Switch can help you, contact a bariatric surgeon. Speak with 2 or 3 Dallas bariatric  surgeons.

The Duodenal Switch is a great operation that will provide a lifetime of good health.