Sad but true and backed up by a U.S. study looking at sleep, metabolism and eating habits of men and women-Researchers at the University of Colorado found that when subjects came up short on sleep, they experienced almost immediate weight gain. As reported by the The New York Times reports, the study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found fast weight gain among the sleep-deprived regardless of gender.
In the abstract, researchers note, "Our findings suggest that increased food intake during insufficient sleep is a physiological adaptation to provide energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness; yet when food is easily accessible, intake surpasses that needed." Wright suggested part of those extra pounds was a product of behavioral changes. “We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep they overate carbohydrates,”. He added that part of the change was behavioral. Staying up late and skimping on sleep led to not only more eating, but a shift in the type of foods a person consumed.
Night owls managed to consume 6 per cent more calories. But once they started sleeping more, they began eating more healthfully, consuming fewer carbohydrates and fats.
I think a lot of it can be caused when we are confused by our body signals. We are sleepy or cranky or worn out so we reach for a comfort food for a quick dose of energy. Later (feeling low energy from lack of sleep and nutritionless carbohydrates) we skip the gym and pick up takeout for dinner-- no time to cook.
Additional problems are explained by Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona, “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.”
The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.” More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. “You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Breus says.
Ackk so what does all of this news have to do with our challenge for this week?
For every day you do at least 3 things to contribute to getting a good night’s sleep you can claim your 5 points from the Weekly Challenge. (They can be the same 3 things each day- find what works for you) Ideas would include:
1. Clean your bedroom. Fresh linens, a beautifully made bed, a tidy end table, a cleared off dresser top, adorned with a favorite photo or fresh flowers- All of these help your bedroom to be a lovely and peaceful place that invites relaxation that contributes to sleep. Your bedroom should be a relaxing sanctuary. Every day that you take some steps toward this goal you can claim the bonus points.
2. Cut out the Caffeine- Caffeine (found in tea, coffee, sodas and some over the counter medications) can stay in your system as long as 14 hours, increases the number of times you awaken at night and decreases the total amount of sleep time. This may subsequently affect daytime anxiety and performance. Cut out the caffeine for bonus points.
3. Avoid working, eating, and discussing emotional issues in bed (I have a rule for my hubby that nothing stressful can be spoken of after 9:00 pm) The bed should be used for sleep and sex only. If not, we can associate the bed with other activities and it often becomes difficult to fall asleep.
4. Minimize noise, light, and temperature extremes during sleep with ear plugs, window blinds, or an electric blanket or air conditioner. Even the slightest nighttime noises or luminescent lights can disrupt the quality of your sleep. I can’t tell you how getting blackout curtains and shutters have increased the time I am able to stay asleep. I even have electrical tape over the small lights on my bedside modem.
5. Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m. This may reduce awakenings due to a need to urinate.
6. Avoid naps, but if you do nap, make it no more than about 25 minutes. If you have problems falling asleep, then no naps for you.
7. Do not expose yourself to bright light if you do need to get up at night. Use a small night-light instead. I bought a motion activated night-light (on amazon) that turns on if I do need to walk in the bathroom at night and it is much calmer and more subtle than switching on the full overhead lights.
8. Avoid the light of televisions and computers late at night. My son has been using a program that dims the light emitted from his computer in the evening hours so as not to interfere with sleep. It’s a free program available at http://stereopsis.com/flux/ Also your i-pad can be read with white letters on black instead of black on white (to switch it go to preferences then general then accessibility then choose white on black)
9. Consider some natural help aids. Certain herbal teas can help you relax and fall asleep. Chamomile is a popular tea that slows the nervous system and promotes relaxation. A new tea I’ve discovered is Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime - yum. Other liquids, such as a small glass of warm milk, may also help. Melatonin (my favorite is Source Naturals Melatonin 1 mg. peppermint flavored sublingual also available from amazon helps many people sleep (though it can cause vivid and sometimes scary dreams). Essential oils can also have great power to aid your sleep. I love Lavender on my pillowcase, Doterra’s Serenity rubbed on the back of my neck and a drop of Clary Sage (Also Doterra) on my tongue. ZZZZZZZZZZ!! As always check with your health professional before trying natural remedies.
10. Take control of your worries. Most of us lead very stressful lives. Stress, surprises, and changes can take a toll on our sleep habits. I often find myself going over, over and over the same worries somehow thinking if I think about it long enough, an easy solution is going to somehow pop up. One way to decrease this endless cycle of worry before bed is to write down your concerns in a journal and close the book on the day. You might even want to note a specific time the following day that you will worry about those things you have listed.
10. If you must get up make it as quick and stress free as possible- I know some of you are young mothers with children that you still may need to get up with during the night. If you are getting up to change a diaper or give hugs and reassurance make sure the diaper and wipes and anything else needed are set out and ready the night before. If you are getting up to nurse or give a bottle likewise have things as ready as possible. Set your favorite cozy blanket in your favorite cozy chair. Have diapering items set out. If you want a cup of tea while nursing have the tea bag and cup set out and the tea pot full of water ready to switch on. Plan ahead to minimize any chores you must do during the night so that things are as quick, easy and relaxing as possible.
11. Create a bedtime ritual. It is calming to do the same things each night to signal your body it's time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness. I have found great calming by listening to meditation CD’s and particularly like those guided by Stin Hansen. She shares several free ones at http://www.mythoughtcoach.com
12. Get comfortable. Sleeping clothes should be loose and comfortable and sheets should be fresh and clean. Your mattress and pillows should be those you find the coziest and most comfortable. Do you need any upgrades to sleeping clothes or bedding?
13. Avoid the snooze alarm. You might be surprised that I have NEVER hit snooze in my entire life. The reason? I set my alarm for the last possible moment I can rise and meet my daily obligations. Why would I want to get up any earlier than that? I surprised a friend recently when I shared that on the mornings I work at the temple I get up just 10 minutes before I walk out the door. The trick to being able to do that is my before bed preparation. Before I retire for the night my temple bag is packed and on the kitchen table with my purse, my breakfast bar and my water bottle. In my bathroom my dress, underclothing and shoes are selected and set out. I shower and wash and dry my hair right before bed. I get up, use the bathroom, quickly flat iron my hair and put on a couple of swipes of make up. Pull dress over my head, step into my shoes, grab my items from the table and I’m out the door. Now why would I set my alarm for 30 minutes before I leave and disturb my sleep in the morning by hitting snooze, then hitting snooze then hitting snooze until I REALLY need to get up. I set the alarm for when I REALLY need to get up.
So ladies work on sleeping longer and better this week to earn your daily bonus points!