Sleeping isn’t lazy. Sleeping isn’t even inactive. While you’re asleep, your body is busy doing all kinds of housekeeping, from removing toxins to consolidating memories.
Our culture, though, has come to view sleep as the enemy of productivity and ambition. Some entrepreneurs and celebrities even brag about how little sleep they need (sometimes forgetting to add that they take naps during the day). But most people — including most successful people — need somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Good sleep has many benefits. Chief among them is regulating your hormones and your metabolism. That’s why the experts at Enrich Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, consider getting good sleep an essential part of healthy weight loss.
Your weight may wake you up
One of the greatest contributors to poor sleep is a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that literally means “without breath” and refers to pauses in breathing while asleep. If you have sleep apnea, you may wake yourself up multiple times a night through snoring or gasping for air.
The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is when some portion of your anatomy blocks your airway while you’re sleeping, so you can’t breathe. Almost half of women and men who are obese have OSA, and with OSA comes poor sleep.
In yet another of life’s catch 22s, if you’re overweight you’re more likely to have OSA and therefore less likely to get the sleep you need to achieve and maintain a stable weight. So you have OSA because you’re overweight, and your OSA helps to keep you overweight.
If we think you have sleep apnea, we may recommend a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine. Or, you may benefit from an oral appliance that keeps your airway open at night.
Another way to improve sleep apnea and its fractured rest is by losing weight. Even if you only lose 10% of your body weight, you can improve your OSA by 20%. And once you’re sleeping better, you’re more likely to keep that weight off.
Lack of sleep make you hungry
You may have noticed that if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you crave more sugar or carb-rich snacks. That’s not just your perception; it’s your hormones acting out of whack.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you overproduce a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you you’re hungry and sets your stomach to growling. If you have too much ghrelin, you’re hungry all the time. And you hunger for fast energy in the form of nutrient-poor high glycemic carbohydrates and sugars.
To make matters worse, poor sleep leads you to underproduce another hunger-related hormone called leptin. Leptin is the hormone that signals your brain that your stomach is full and that you’ve had enough to eat. If you don’t have enough leptin, you may never feel full and so continue to eat long past the time when you’ve met your caloric and nutritional needs.
Sex hormones affect your sleep … and weight
If you’re a woman going through perimenopause or menopause, or a man whose testosterone has begun to decline, you may find it difficult to sleep through the night. Whether it takes too much time to fall asleep, or you wake up too early or multiple times during a night, you have insomnia.
When your sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — are out of balance, your sleep quality goes down. And when you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t produce the hormones your body needs for optimal function and rest. In such cases, we may recommend hormone replacement therapy.
Sleeplessness makes you, well, sleepy
No surprise here: If you don’t get a good night’s rest, you feel sleepy and sluggish throughout the day. When your energy is low, it’s hard to feel motivated to go to the gym and work up a sweat. Without enough physical exercise, though, you won’t be able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
If you finally want to get your weight and health under control, sleep may be the answer. Call our team at 432-200-9087 today. Awake in the middle of the night? You can reach us with our online message form, too.