Is Your Sleep Affecting Your Weight?
- Tuesday, 05 July 2011
If you think that sleep deprivation isn’t affecting your weight, you’re dreaming.
Ask a room full of people what the standard recommendation for sleep is, and you’re likely to hear, “Eight hours, but I need nine.” But over the past 40 years, the sleep duration of Americans has decreased by 1.5 to 2 hours. Today, many Americans sleep only five to six hours per night.
Sleep deprivation contributes to a host of problems - from a larger waist circumference to increased accidents to more heart attacks. Research shows that the amount of sleep, as well as the quality of your sleep can have a profound effect on the production of the hormones that control appetite, leptin and ghrelin. In fact, insufficient sleep increases your appetite by over 20 percent!
Those who sleep fewer hours produce more ghrelin, the hunger hormone whose role is to trigger appetite, and makeless leptin, the appetite suppressor which tells you when you’re full.
A sleepless night is typically followed by a day when no matter what you eat, you just don’t feel full or satisfied. You might find yourself snacking on carbs (potato chips, cookies, cereal, bread...) all day long.
To make matters worse, reduced sleep affects insulin sensitivity, causing cravings for carbohydrates and making you more prone to developing Type II Diabetes.
Sleep Do’s & Don’t’s
Start your day with a vitamin B complex for improved energy during waking hours and better sleep. Whole grains, such as brown rice and raw leafy greens, including spinach are rich natural sources of B vitamins, but consider taking a B complex supplement upon rising daily until your sleep improves.
Take magnesium. Known as the“anti-stress” mineral, magnesium helps to relax your muscles and calm the nervous system. Magnesium is found in nuts, greens, and whole grains, but to experience its full benefits, take a 300 mg or 600 mg supplement just before going to bed.
Talk Turkey. To relax or sleep, eat foods that are rich in L-tryptophan, such as turkey or dairy products.L-tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, a brain chemical that induces sleep.
Melatonin supplements work! The range for melatonin supplementation is 1-6 mg. Experiment with different dosages until you find the amount that works best for you.
Use caffeine strategically. If you’re a caffeine user, keep in mind that consuming large amounts of caffeine during the day will impact your sleep quality. Limit coffee consumption to two cups within a 24-hour period, and tea (including green tea) to four cups a day. Caffeine is not a stimulant; but rather, it blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that indicates when you’re fatigued. Keep in mind that caffeine over-stresses the adrenal glands and the endocrine system, contributing to adrenal fatigue (“burn out”). Even though caffeine may make you feel more alert in the short-term, in the long-term it will disrupt the production of the melatonin you need to get a good sleep.
Take omega-3 fish oils. Omega-3 helps to combat the inflammation caused by disturbed sleep patterns. Between 1,000 to 3,000 mg of fish oil (a combination of EPA and DHA) taken daily, as well as eating cold water fatty fish at least three times a week is recommended.
Foods to avoid:
Avoiding foods and drinks (such as soft drinks and juice) that are high in simple sugars, or foods with a high Glycemic Index (GI) within a couple of hours before bed is critical. Foods with a high GI contribute to fat storage. The sugars in these foods will reach the blood stream just as you have drifted off to sleep and may interfere with a restful sleep.
Foods known to cause gas can disrupt your sleep as they move through digestive system.
Hot or spicy foods stimulate metabolism, body temperature and energy levels (body temperature should be lower for a deep, restful sleep).
Aspartame and MSG are among the many artificial food additives that are excitotoxins, stimulating mental activity and interfering with sleep. These must be strictly avoided.
Alcohol consumed within two hours of sleep will interfere with the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase of sleep, causing fatigue the next day.
Additionally, since digestion uses a great deal of energy, it’s best not to eat a large meal within two hours of going to bed.