The Sleep Diet

Yesterday I didn’t post. I came home from work and fell asleep. I didn’t wake until my daughter woke me to say, “Aren’t you going to make dinner?” I did wake, made a quick Boboli pizza with low-fat cheese, and went back to sleep. I didn’t get my exercise in, but neither did I snack through the evening the way I frequently do. One advantage to sleeping is that you can’t be eating while you are asleep.

A quick check on the Internet actually supports this. According to what I am reading, there is “substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight.” (WebMD) Apparently lack of sleep, or even lack of quality sleep, can cause you to gain weight. This makes sooo much sense to me. I thought it was just that being tired led to making poor decisions, but there seems to be more to it than that. Sleep loss can make you feel hungry when you aren’t. I’ve seen that when I pull all-nighters. I always find I get up  and need to eat whenever I work through the night, and mornings where I’ve had less than a few hours sleep I crave fats and proteins (usually causing me to drive to the nearest fast-food breakfast drive-through. More than that, sleep loss actually interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, which causes an increase in fat storage. (WebMD)

There also seems to be a correlation between sleep apnea and being overweight. I’m in the process of getting a sleep-study for my daughter because she is having problems sleeping. As I’ve mentioned before, she also has the same weight issues I do. My sister warned me that the doctors might tell us that her sleeping problems are caused by being overweight, but actually the doctor told me the opposite: Many of her weight problems are caused by not being able to sleep properly. Now I think I should get myself checked out as well.

I don’t know how much it will help, but I would love to wake up and not feel tired, to get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis, and to feel rested. Plus I really like the idea of sleeping off the extra pounds.

Here are a few more resources on the topic:

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6 thoughts on “The Sleep Diet

  1. Totally true about sleep! When I am really tired I something get “tricked” into thinking that food will give me energy. So I eat and then I’m still tired because all I need is SLEEP! Now that I am aware of this fact, I try to not eat when I’m exhausted like that! Thanks for posting!

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  2. One of the things the doctors always said to me first off was “Your not sleeping well because you are over weight, lose weight and it will get better.” Once they did the tests and looked at my history they said “Oh, you gained most of your weight because of your sleep problems.” Still losing weight helps those problems, thought it is tricky when you only get ten percent of the REM sleep you are supposed to be getting no matter how much you sleep *sigh* it is a sick and sad cycle in my case. I can’t wait to get medical coverage to start going through studies again and try and find a solution.

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  3. This is totally and completely true! Sleep is far more important to maintaining a healthy weight than anyone ever realizes. I recently took a class about the Psychology of Sleep. It was pretty much the most enlightening class I’ve ever taken and it really has impacted my life.

    Sleep apnea is definitely associated with weight gain as well. What happens is that the extra skin in our necks makes it harder for us to breathe. It pinches shut airways–either partially or completely. This causes the person to stop breathing momentarily. The person never gets to have deep sleep because their body keeps getting jolted awake before it is possible. Thus, they are massively sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation can also cause us to think we are hungry when we aren’t which only makes the cycle turn once more…

    Anyway, good luck with that sleep study and hopefully everything works out well for your daughter. In the meantime, there are many other things you can do to improve the quality of your family’s sleep. For that course I took, we read Dr. Dement’s “The Promise of Sleep.” That book seriously changed my life and you can get for a couple bucks from Half.com if you’re interested. I’d highly recommend it!!

    Good luck with your weight loss!!

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  4. True! I’ve heard about that too! That’s why I am working on getting more sleep! I keep telling my husband, who always complains about being tired and not feeling well! Get more sleep, eat better–voila!

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  5. Thanks for the comment! Your totally right I was reading a magazine the other day about something similar to this. It said you can actually burn more calories taking a nap then watching your favorite show on t.v. If you think about it, it does make sense instead of sitting in front of the tube (probably eating) you can take a nap. Not only do you wake up feeling re-energized but there was no junk food in the mean time, and you burned calories from the tossing and turning 🙂

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