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.

Rethink Your New Year’s Resolution With These Healthy Eating Tips

Does your favorite workout spot feel unusually packed? In early January, there’s a pretty good chance that a whole host of new faces will appear at the gym, optimistic and ready to make good on their New Year’s resolutions. Diet and exercise are often the starting points for anyone willing to get behind a “new year, new you” attitude, and placing restrictions on the former seems to be the norm.

healthy eating tips

But before you start counting calories and cutting carbs, consider this: eating better, rather than eating less, is a much more manageable commitment that brings results—which means that it may be the one resolution you stick to all year long.

So which foods should you embrace, and which should you avoid? A good rule of thumb is to include more natural foods that people have enjoyed for centuries. Fruits, vegetable, nuts, fish and chicken are a great start. On the flip side, steer clear of anything ultra-processed, like pre-packaged snacks and meals, which tend to include high levels of sugar, sodium and processed fats.

One way to make sure you’re eating more natural, unprocessed foods is by shopping the “perimeter” of your grocery store and staying away from most of the inner aisles, which is where processed foods like chips, breads, and pre-packaged meals often live.

healthy eating tips

Don’t deny yourself every food you love, though. Completely cutting out particular foods often leads to cravings and binge eating, which means that eating smarter and more moderately may be a more achievable resolution than trying to drastically change your diet all at once. Healthy substitutes can often help to satiate cravings, as well. Reach for fruit instead of sweets, yogurt instead of ice cream, and granola bars instead of cookies so you’ll feel satisfied rather than guilty.

Weight-loss presents unique challenges for everyone, and sometimes diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to achieve the results you need. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor or surgeon about what weight loss surgery procedures will benefit you most in conjunction with the healthy lifestyle changes outlined above.

Welcome 2016 with these health-conscious changes to look and feel your best all year long! If you need help or have questions, contact Dallas Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Dirk Rodriguez.