Finding the extra time to sleep may be the dieting trick you’re looking for
What if you could make losing weight easier just by doing a makeover on your sleep habits? Well it’s true, you can. At least according to a recent Glamour Magazine study when sleep doctors created a weight loss plan with one simple goal, get at least seven and a half hours of sleep each night. That’s all! No diet or exercise changes and in ten weeks the participants lost between six and fifteen pounds. One tester couldn’t stick to the plan because of a crazy work schedule, but she did lose two and a half inches off her bust, waist and hips.
Over two-dozen studies show that there is a connection between weight loss and sleep habits. In one 16-year study from Case Western University of almost 70,000 women, those who slept five hours or less were 30 percent more likely to be 30 lbs. or more overweight. Is the national obesity crisis also a sleep crisis too? The average woman gets 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep. Where do we find the time to make that seven and a half hours? It means fifty minutes less television, working or playing on the computer. But that one thing might mean the difference between losing those extra pounds or gaining them.
How does this sleep – weight loss connection work? Top New Jersey pulmonary doctor, Federico Cerrone, MD, who specializes in sleep disorders offers, “We know that sleep deprivation, as well as weight gain, can change your hormones that control appetite and appetite suppression.” So when we don’t get enough sleep we are naturally hungrier and we eat more. Also, our energy is low and we often will grab a high carbohydrate or sugary snack to get a boost. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that participants in one study who had five and a half hours sleep ate 221 more calories of snacks than when they had eight hours of sleep. Another factor is how your body stores and breaks down fat and muscle is connected to sleep. During deep sleep the body secretes growth hormone which when in short supply turns extra calories into stored fat on the belly, butt and thighs.
One of the factors to consider when taking off those extra pounds beyond getting to bed earlier is that there other physical and psychophysiological reasons for sleep issues. Often these can be easily treated making the goal of enough good quality sleep immediately achievable. Then taking off those extra pounds may not be so hard. Dr. Cerrone adds, “A lot of patients come to me and they say, “You know, Doc? I’m overweight, I know I’m overweight; I’m trying to lose weight. I diet, I exercise – I can’t lose weight.” And I tell them, “It really may just be related to your sleep problem.” No doubt, obstructive sleep apnea changes your metabolism, it can change your hormones, and make it much more difficult to lose weight. So yes, that could be a sign that you may have a sleep disorder, as well. And maybe you should speak to your doctor about that problem.” With 65 percent of the population overweight, a large percentage will have a sleep disorder. “It’s estimated that 25% of males probably do have obstructive sleep apnea, and 9-10% of females, especially after menopause.” Offers Cerrone.
To find out if you have a sleep disorder, Dr. Cerrone is providing a sleep risk assessment . “We developed this questionnaire, or what we call a risk assessment … and by sitting down at your computer, within a few minutes, you’ll know whether you’re at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea and whether you should be taking the next step in getting treatment for this problem.” A basic Body Mass Index or BMI and some lifestyle answers is all that it takes for a fairly good prediction if you are at risk for a sleep disorder. Dr. Cerrone and the team at Atlantic Health Sleep Centers also provides you with a free personal report. As a bonus, you will be able to watch our interview with Dr. Cerrone as he answers the top questions about weight loss and sleep.
Naturally, if your risk assessment indicates you may have a sleep problem, it should be followed up with a consultation with a physician who specializes in sleep disorders to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. It’s important that you get help for a sleep disorder right away. Especially, with serious conditions like a sleep apnea treatment, it will not only improve your life, but it might save it. Once treated you will be on your way to sleeping the pounds away.