Get Your ZZZs On!

January 15, 2019 / / Behavior changes

Getting a good night of ZZZ’s is one of life’s greatest pleasures. We talk about a sleepless night like bad weather. “OMG, I’m so tired, I didn’t sleep a wink last night.” Unbeknownst to many people a poor night’s sleep is much worse than an inconvenience. (Consider much worse than a rainfall, more like a hurricane.) There is not only sleeplessness in Seattle; 75% of American adults frequently have a sleep problem, such as waking at night, and 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep problem.

Lack of sleep appears to lead to weight gain from less energy expenditure and increase in calorie consumption. REM, or rapid eye movement, stage of sleep is the last and final 25% of your sleep cycle. During the REM sleep cycle the most amount of calories are burned than any other stage of sleep.  Dr. Van Caulter, a sleep specialist reports, “after two nights of diminished sleep, the volunteers found foods such as candy, cookies and cake far more appealing than fruit, vegetables or dairy products.”

Sleep deprivation has been associated with obesity by multiple methods; recurrent sleep restriction (less than 5.5 hours/day) leads to reduced glucose tolerance, decrease in insulin sensitivity, reduced glucose effectiveness, and an increase in 24 hour epinephrine and nighttime norepinephrine levels. When people lose weight, if they sleep less, they lose less fat: the proportion of weight loss as fat was 55% less.

Hence the vicious cycle; bad sleep and bad diets perpetuate each other. And, visa versa- eating right helps you sleep better and improved sleep helps you eat better. Eating high fat or protein within 3 hours of sleep may delay your internal ‘it’s time to sleep’ clock. On the other hand, if you are hungry, the discomfort may inhibit sleep. So, getting the proper well-balanced meal around 6 pm may prevent the hunger pangs before bedtime.

Exercise is linked to better sleep, but try to avoid aerobic activity 4 hours prior to sleep. Melatonin, your body’s natural sleep hormone, starts to rise around 10-10:30 and peaks around 1:30- so try to ride the wave and be in bed ready to catch those ZZZ’s by 10.

The studies support 7-7.5 hours of sleep a night-this amount of sleep should help with weight loss and the mid-afternoon M&M binge. A 10% weight loss is all that is necessary for obstructive sleep apnea to be corrected. When insomnia is treated people usually lose weight within a few weeks. Go get your ZZZZ on!



Author: Dr. Becky

Dr. Becky is a board-certified Obesity and Gynecology physician with over 30 years’ experience providing support and guidance for her patients.

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Rebecca Burdette, MD

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