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Lack of Sleep Linked to Weight Gain For New Moms

 However, our “always-on” culture has created a sleep-deprived generation. Cell phones, computers, PDAs and 24-hour cable television keep our brains stimulated. The result is fatigue, poor health and, surprisingly,weight gain.

According to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanete and Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, it was found that moms who got less than five hours of sleep a day when their babies were 6 months old were three times more likely to be carrying 11 extra pounds at the child’s first birthday than those who get seven hours. The bottom line –- those extra two hours of sleep could make all the difference.

Other studies have shown that persistent sleep deprivation causes hormonal changes that may stimulate appetite.

Sleep, Hormones and Weight Gain

Leptin and Grehlin are hormones that help the body control appetite andweight gain and loss. Leptin suppresses appetite, while Grehlin increases appetite and may prevent a person from losing weight.

When lack of sleep becomes a chronic problem, levels of Grehlin increases, causing greater appetite, and levels of Leptin decrease. Regardless of diet and exercise, it’s possible that some obesity is caused, or made worse, by sleep deprivation.

Research subjects who slept only four hours a night for two nights had an 18 percent decrease in leptin, a hormone that tells the brain there is no need for more food, and a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

The Stages of Sleep

In order to understand the link between sleep deprivation and weight gain it is important to know how much quality sleep we need. Experts believe that adults require seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that decreased amounts of REM sleep can lead to an increased food intake. The two phases of sleep are referred to as non-REM sleep and REM sleep. The “REM” in both phases stands for “Rapid Eye Movement.”

Sleep Tips for New Moms

Other things moms find relaxing: warm baths; soft music; cuddling with pets; decaf tea or milky cocoa; stretches; and yes, even sex.

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