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.


Sleeping off the PoundsNot 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 stress 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 individuals.

 

Poor and inadequate sleep can affect many aspects of your quality of life: athletic performance, work productivity, immune response and well-being.

 

Tips for a better nap:

  • If you have difficulty sleeping at night, don't nap during the day.

 

  • Sleeping off the PoundsMaintain a regular exercise schedule,- but 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 sleep.
     

  • 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..
     

  • Eat smaller meals
     

  • 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.
     

  • Sleeping off the PoundsDon't smoke - Having a smoke before bed, although it 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.
     

  • Go to 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.
     

  • Sleeping off the PoundsAvoid 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 weight management, appetite and hunger control. You need to awaken refreshed so you can plan healthy eating and exercise for each day.



 

Dated 21 February 2012

 


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