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.

5 Benefits of Exercise (that have nothing to do with weight loss)

5 benefits of exercise

While weight loss is the reason most people start working out, many stick with the habit long after they’ve met their goal weight. Of course, exercise is helpful for maintaining that healthy weight, but there are many other benefits of exercise than just watching the number on the scale drop.

Here of the top five reasons to work out that have nothing to do with weight loss.

1. Exercise wards off the common cold.

Since we’re entering cold and flu season, this is one benefit of exercise that shouldn’t be ignored. Research has shown that moderate amounts of aerobic exercise can boost the body’s natural defenses against viruses and bacteria. In fact, a recent study showed that people who worked out for 40 minutes four days a week were 25-50 percent less likely to catch a cold.

2. A good workout improves your mood.

You probably already know about endorphins, the feel-good hormones you feel after a good workout. But did you know that working out helps your mood at all times, not just immediately after exercise? One study even found that brisk walking can be as effective as prescription antidepressants for those suffering from mild to moderate depression.

3. Regular exercise promotes better sleep.

Being active regularly helps your body fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just be sure not to exercise right before bedtime — you’ll be extra-energized instead of ready to hit the hay.

4. Exercise can increase your self-confidence. 

The confidence that comes from losing weight is something Dr. Dirk hears about time and time again from his satisfied patients. But even before people reach the major milestones of losing 50 or 100 pounds, they can still gain a sense of accomplishment from smaller milestones, like working out five days in a row or running a mile without stopping for the first time. Creating workout plans and sticking with them gives you lots of achievable goals to meet, even before you start shedding pounds.

5. Working out can improve your memory, creativity and more.

By increasing blood flow to the brain, exercise also promotes brain health. Many people report feeling more creative and thinking more clearly after a workout, and Scientific American agrees that the effects of a workout can help the brain by boosting memory and even reversing hippocampal shrinkage.

So the next time you’re thinking of skipping a workout, remember that it’s not just the calorie burn you’ll be missing out on. For more information on your weight loss surgery options, contact us today.

 


Can your diet affect the quality of your sleep?

quality of sleep

If the two biggest pillars of health are nutrition and exercise, the the third most important is sleep. Both the quantity and quality of sleep counts when it comes to boosting your overall health, and a new study shows that sleep may have more of an influence on your diet than you realize.

Researchers at Purdue University studied the effect that diet has on sleep patterns. Many studies have already shown that lack of sleep can affect your diet — being tired can easily lead to junk food cravings. This new study turned the question around and asked whether good nutrition can improve sleep, and the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Of the 44 participants in the study, those who stuck to a high-protein, low-calorie nutrition plan slept better than those who weren’t on the plan. Many other participants lost weight, but those who were on the low-carb diet saw sleep improvements the other dieters did not.

Dr. Dirk isn’t surprised by these results.

“This current study is just one of many that show that when a person wants to lose a meaningful amount of weight and improve their health, high-protein, low-carb is the way to go,” Dr. Dirk says.

He adds that increasing aerobic exercise and vitamin intake can greatly improve your chances of losing weight.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight with a traditional diet or with the help of weight loss surgery, a high-protein, low-carb diet is your best best for a healthier lifestyle.