Sleeping off the Pounds
Some of us, even those who remain active and
eat right, find that we gain
unwanted weight as we age. What may be missing is adequate sleep.
Not sleeping enough seems to be associated with metabolic changes that can
lead to overeating and
obesity. Studies where sleep restriction in the
laboratory was done, subjects tended to have metabolic changes and alterations
of glucose metabolism that might lead to their becoming obese in the future.
Sleeping too little can also contribute to weight gain by putting undue
on the body. The body sees sleep deprivation as a state of stress; cortisol is
the stress hormone. Cortisol causes, in turn, the release of insulin and insulin
is a storage hormone that promotes fat storage.
Also as we age, our sleep patterns change significantly and most of us find
we sleep less and less, almost by nearly a half an hour per decade. The
drop in slow wave sleep from young adulthood to midlife accompanied a similar
drop in growth hormone levels. Growth hormone is lipolytic (breaks down fat) and
acts to reduce and redistribute
body fat. Besides sleep loss can affect many
biological processes, including thyroid function and levels of the stress
hormone cortisol, which was abnormally high in the evening in the sleep-deprived
Poor and inadequate sleep can affect many aspects of your
quality of life: athletic performance, work productivity,
Tips for a better nap:
If you have difficulty sleeping at night, don't
nap during the day.
Maintain a regular exercise schedule,-
don't work out within three hours of going to bed- In general,
exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder
sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make
falling asleep more difficult. In addition to making us more alert, our body
temperature rises during exercise, and takes as much as 6 hours to begin to
drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset.. Finish your
exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime. Late afternoon exercise is the
perfect way to help you fall asleep at night.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
- in the
late afternoon and evening because they can either delay or interrupt your
sleep.- Caffeine and Nicotine are a stimulant, which means it can
produce an alerting effect. Caffeine products, such as coffee, tea, colas and
chocolate, remain in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours. Even if you
do not think caffeine affects you, it may be disrupting and changing the
quality of your sleep. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed can
help improve sleep quality. Consuming alcohol leads to a night of less restful
Drink fewer fluids before bedtime.
Avoid heavy meals before going to sleep
Eating or drinking too much may make you less comfortable when settling
down for bed. It is best to avoid a heavy meal too close to bedtime. Also,
spicy foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty falling asleep and
discomfort during the night..
Don't go to bed hungry
- Try a
carbohydrate snack 30 minutes before
bed. In addition, milk or dairy products have been shown to be sleep
inducing. Milk has L-tryptophan, which has been shown to help people go to
sleep. So skim milk and a low-fat snack may be a good nighttime treat.
Don't smoke - Having a smoke before bed,
feels relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your
bloodstream. Recent research has shown that if you must smoke, take long, slow
drags and pause between puffs, as this method produces the least stimulating
effects, as opposed to short,
quick puffs.. Also,
cut back before bed -- have fewer cigarettes during the four hours before bed,
and don't have any 30-45 minutes before bed.
Unwind in a warm bath
- or find some other
ritual to relax you before going to bed.
bed and wake up at regular times every day - The sleep-wake cycle is
regulated by a "circadian clock" in our brain and the body's need to balance
both sleep time and wake time. A regular waking time in the morning
strengthens the circadian function and can help with sleep onset at night.
That is also why it is important to keep a regular bedtime and wake-time, even
on the weekends when there is the temptation to sleep-in.
If you find yourself tossing and turning, get up and
read or listen to relaxing music before trying again. A
relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright
lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause
excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep,
get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep. It may be helpful to learn
relaxation therapy from a trained professional.
Avoid looking at the clock -If you wake up in the middle of the
night. It can cause anxiety.
Keep pets off the bed.
Does your pet sleep with you? This, too, may
cause you to awaken during the night, either from allergies or pet movements. Fido and Fluffy might be better off on the floor than on your sheets.
A good night's sleep is important to
appetite and hunger control. You need to awaken refreshed so you can plan
healthy eating and exercise for each day.
Dated 21 February 2012