Sleep off those pounds!

Posted: Apr 30 in Activity Recommendations, Health And Wellness, Medical Weight Loss News by

Another exciting topic at this year’s American Society of Bariatric Physicians conference examined the link between sleep and obesity. In fact, this is one of the few lectures that kept me awake 🙂

Did you know that we actually burn calories while we sleep? Sleep is divided into 5 stages, conveniently labeled stage 1 through 5. Unsurprisingly, we progress through the stages in numerical order, with Stage 1 and 2 sleep being Light Sleep, 3 & 4 are Deep Sleep, and stage 5 is the “REM” sleep (standing for rapid eye movement). Most people go through about 5 sleep cycles each night. However, the early part of the night there is a lot more Stage 1 and 2 sleep, while most of the REM sleep occurs in the final 1/3rd of the night.

In Stage 3 & 4 sleep, we physically restore our bodies. In fact, during this stage we have the largest production of growth hormone, which is responsible for cellular repair and tissue regeneration. Further, we restore our immune system, reduce risk of osteoporosis, and restore skin elasticity.

In Stage 5 or REM sleep, we mentally restore ourselves. This large increase in brain activity also leads to a large increase in calories being burned. We move the information from our short-term to our long-term memories. In fact, in REM sleep, we burn 118 calories per hour. Since most individuals I meet have been gaining weight slowly (1-2 pounds per month, or 100-200 calories per day), 1 extra hour of REM sleep might be enough to prevent weight gain.

Unfortunately when an individual does not get as much sleep as his or her body needs, we curtail the most important part of our sleep. Waking up just 1 hour too early results in a loss of most of this enormously valuable REM sleep. Further, not getting enough sleep has been associated with having an unfavorable effect on our body’s hunger hormones, resulting in a drop in Leptin (a satiating hormone) and a large increase in Grehlin (one of the strongest hunger hormones).

So, get some rest! Here are 5 helpful tips:

1. Choose a bed time and stick with it!

Because we often have a fixed wake up time (work, kids, etc), the best way to figure out your bedtime is to start at the wake up time and count backwards by 7.5 to 8 hours. This is your bed time – stick with it even on weekends and holidays.

2. No caffeine after 2:00 PM

3. No Alcohol 3 hours before bed.

4. No exercise 4 hours before bed.

A caveat here is that for some individuals, exercise can have a calming effect. If this is true for you, ignore #4. Also, some individuals enjoy calming type exercise like Yoga and find this helpful for sleep – again, if you fall in to this category, ignore #4.

5. Get at least 15 minutes of sunlight daily.

That’s it! Enjoy your new-found energy levels, mental clarity, satiety, oh and did I mention, healthy weight?


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