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Sleep: Get as much of it as possible!

I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting a lot of sleep to lasting, healthy weight-loss.

Being an insomniac, I can identify with you if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. I still struggle with insomnia. I simply do the best that I can to get as much sleep as I can, whenever I can.

Sometimes, techniques or strategies are very helpful to ease my insomnia. Other times, nothing really helps, and I just have to accept that it is going to be one of those nights where I am staring at my computer screen (or otherwise occupying myself) until 3 or 4am. Fortunately, I have a few really funny friends in other time zones to chat with!

It actually isn’t the best sleep plan to be parked in front of a large light-emitting box after dark, but most of us do it anyway.

On nights when it is practical to do so, however, I turn off my phone and my computer about an hour prior to my desired bed time. Again, sometimes this works very well. Other times, I can’t sleep for hours anyway, so I end up turning the computer back on. The most important thing, for me, is to at least give myself the CHANCE to get a full night’s sleep, and to give myself that chance on as many nights as I can.

If I can’t sleep, the best thing to do is to not worry about it and occupy myself doing something that is relatively relaxing until sleep arrives (on its own time schedule!).

Are you an insomniac? Think of gentle, non-judgmental strategies that might help you. Here is one of my favorite websites for insomniacs:

http://www.nvo.com/isleepless/bedtimestoriesforinsomniacs/

I love the bedtime story about the city mouse and the country mouse. It was one of my favorite stories as a child. I’ve linked directly to the story. There are plenty of other helpful links on the left-hand side of this lovely website, as you will see!

Personally, I have always skipped clicking on the box titled “Caution! Insomnia can be dangerous!”

I don’t want to worry about how dangerous it is that I’m not sleeping. I want to calm down and not worry about anything, so that sleep is more likely to come!

Do you have a busy schedule? Most of us do. If so, think about what you can you cut out of your current schedule in order to give yourself the chance to get more sleep. For me, I love and treasure a clean house, but I did less housecleaning while I was losing weight. As you’ll see on my weight-loss menus, I often slept for 9-10 hours per night when I could! However, some nights I was unable to get more than about 4-5 hours of sleep, if that. So I think it all balanced out in the end.

Balance is key. Some people are able to get more sleep on the week-ends, and less sleep during the week. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to get a full night’s sleep sometimes, but also don’t feel guilty about sleeping a few more hours than you’re used to, at a time that works for you. Your body will thank you for it!

This webmd article clearly explains why sleep is so important to weight-loss.

From the article:

“…substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibly the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.

‘One of the more interesting ideas that has been smoldering and is now gaining momentum is the appreciation of the fact that sleep and sleep disruption do remarkable things to the body — including possibly influencing our weight,’ says David Rapoport, MD, associate professor and director of the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

While doctors have long known that many hormones are affected by sleep, Rapoport says it wasn’t until recently that appetite entered the picture. What brought it into focus, he says, was research on the hormones leptin and ghrelin. First, doctors say that both can influence our appetite. And studies show that production of both may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.

In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin.

How Hormones Affect Your Sleep

Leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of ‘checks and balances’ system to control feelings of hunger and fullness, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.

So what’s the connection to sleep? ‘When you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food,’ Breus tells WebMD….”

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