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Sleep Away The PoundsOptimize Your Sleep and Reset Your Metabolism for Maximum Weight Loss
By Cherie Calbom John Calbom
WARNER WELLNESSCopyright © 2007 Cherie Calbom and John Calbom
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSleeping Can Make You Slim
Do you want to be healthy, trim, energetic, and vibrant? You can, with a weight loss secret that's been right under our noses all along. Sleep. That's right. The very thing many of us don't do enough turns out to be key to staying slim.
We may be tempted to think that staying up late will help us burn up more calories and speed our weight loss. But sleep researchers say that this isn't so. Actually, we typically burn a limited number of calories-say, only about fifty in several hours-in the late evening. And we may think that if we cut our sleep short and get up extra early to go to the gym, we'll see the scale move in the right direction. Yet the harder we work out, the more discouraged we can sometimes become, as we remain stuck at a weight plateau. Some of us search for the magic bullet that will help us get rid of those last ten pounds, but it continues to elude us.
Could a good night's sleep be the missing ingredient? Sleep does indeed emerge as an important piece of the weight control puzzle, according to Stanford University sleep researcher Dr. Emmanuel Mignot. He states, "Most people think that sleeping too much contributes to making people fat, but we found the opposite is true." According to a number of research studies,sleep turns out to be as important to staying in shape as going to the gym, cutting calories, and eating right.
In our frenzy to experience it all, get it all done, manage our universe, and not let a moment escape us, we're missing out on one of life's necessities-a good night's sleep. "We're shifting to a twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week society, and as a result we're increasingly not sleeping like we used to," says Najib T. Ayas of the University of British Columbia. We're really only now starting to understand how that is affecting our weight and our health, and it appears to be a significant factor.
People are the only animals to voluntarily ignore their sleep needs. We've learned to disregard our body's messages when we're tired and needing sleep. We stay up late to work, play, read, socialize, or watch television. Endocrinologist Eve Van Cauter, PhD, who directs the Research Laboratory on Sleep, Chronobiology, and Neuro-endocrinology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, says, "We're overstepping the boundaries of our biology because we are not wired for sleep deprivation." She adds, "We know the obesity epidemic is due to overeating-too big portions, too much rich food, and too little activity-but why do we crave too much of these rich foods?" Maybe, she says, it's because "we are sleep-deprived and unable to curb our appetites."
Did you know there are hormones that make you hungry and hormones that control your appetite? It's true, and research shows they are significantly influenced by how much sleep you get. Here's what studies have revealed:
Five major appetite-influencing hormones can get out of whack when you don't get enough sleep, which significantly affects how much food you eat.
When you are sleep-deprived, your metabolism can really suffer, which causes weight gain.
Appetite-suppressing hormones and appetite-stimulating hormones are best regulated when you get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
You won't tend to crave high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods nearly as much when you get adequate, refreshing sleep.
Sufficient sleep will help you manage your blood sugar more effectively, which helps you manage your appetite. Even one week of sleep deprivation can set off a temporary diabetic effect, causing you to crave sugar and other fattening foods.
Sleeping in a few extra minutes has its advantages. Research shows that if you increase your sleep by just thirty minutes per night, your chances of losing weight go up exponentially.
If you've thought sleeping was a waste of time, you don't need to feel guilty ever again. When you've finished this chapter, you'll realize it's not only very important to staying in shape, but also crucial to staying healthy. By paying attention to your sleep needs, you can be on your way to losing the weight you want-starting tonight. The entire Sleep Away the Pounds Program is dedicated to helping you get the best sleep possible so you can control the hormones that cause you to want to eat more than you should, curb your cravings for sugar and other fattening foods, balance your blood sugar, jump-start your metabolism, and begin losing weight right away.
THROW OUT YOUR DIET BARS AND GRAB YOUR PILLOW
Have you noticed that when you don't get enough sleep, you want to eat more? Sometimes a whole lot more. It may be time to ask yourself if those nights burning the midnight oil might be altering your metabolism.
Research has shown that sleep-deprived people do indeed eat more food, and they often choose the most fattening fare. "During nights of sleep deprivation, you feel that your eating goes wacky," says Dr. Robert Stickgold, associate professor of psychiatry specializing in sleep research at Harvard. "Up at 2 am, working on a paper, a steak or pasta is not very attractive. You'll grab the candy bar instead. It probably has to do with the glucose regulation going off. It could be that a good chunk of our epidemic of obesity is actually an epidemic of sleep deprivation."
Is there a correlation between the 65 percent of Americans who are overweight and the 63 percent who, according to the National Sleep Foundation in Washington, DC, say they don't get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night? A growing number of sleep researchers assert that there is.
Since the mid-1960s, the rate of obesity in the United States has nearly tripled, to one in three adults. Over the same period, the US population has deducted, on average, more than an hour from their nightly slumber. We've lost about two hours of sleep since 1910, when the average person slept nine hours a night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people in the United States now sleep an average of 6.9 hours on weeknights and 7.5 hours on weekends.
A whopping one-third of our population sleeps 6.5 or fewer hours nightly-far less than the 8 hours that many sleep specialists recommend. Physician Will Wilkoff, MD, author of Is My Child Overtired?, says the number of overtired patients he sees has soared in the twenty-five years he has been in practice, because families are trying "to squeeze 28 hours of living into 24."
Groundbreaking research is showing that there is a correlation between the lack of sleep so many Americans are experiencing and the weight gain that is plaguing our nation. "We've known that people use food as a pick-me-up when they are tired, but now it appears they are hungrier than we realized, and there is a hormonal basis for their eating," says Thomas Wadden, director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Columbia University studied the sleep habits of 3,682 people and found that those who got by on less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who slept seven to nine hours nightly. Those catching a modest six hours of sleep a night were 23 percent more likely to be obese. Other studies report that reducing sleep to 6.5 or fewer hours for successive nights causes potentially harmful metabolic, hormonal, and immune changes that can lead to illnesses and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
It's plain to see that getting plenty of refreshing sleep on a consistent basis, and enough sleep to meet your body's needs, could be far better for your weight loss goals than eating a diet bar for lunch every day, and just as important as working out and eating right.
THE VALUE OF REFRESHING SLEEP
No one knows exactly why we sleep, but we do know that during the deepest phases of sleep, appetite-regulating hormones are released, energy is restored, the immune system is strengthened, repairs are completed, and healing hormones are released. During REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep, we have vivid dreams and our brains may be working on consolidating memories. Moreover, a study published in Nature found that our brain restructures new memories during sleep, helping us solve problems and become more insightful.
What Is a Good Night's Sleep?
A good night's sleep doesn't simply involve lying on your fluffy pillow for seven to nine hours. The time spent snoozing should also be restful and restorative. Restorative sleep involves sleeping through the night without awakening, or with few awakenings, and also experiencing all the stages of sleep the body was meant to enjoy.
Many people find that not only are they sleeping less these days, but the sleep they do get is not deep and restorative. Nonrestorative sleep (NRS) appears to be the result of modern industrialized society. Because of NRS, more and more people are waking up tired, and they are irritable, lack concentration, are less productive throughout the day, and are hungrier, even when they've slept eight hours.
Sleep is meant to heal and rejuvenate the body physically, mentally, and emotionally. But for a growing number of people, it doesn't. After a night of tossing and turning, waking up frequently, and dreaming fitful dreams, most people are exhausted. Then their day begins, stressors impact their waking hours, and appetite-stimulating hormones pump into their system. Compounding the problem, NRS contributes not only to weight gain but also to such conditions as chronic pain (such as fibromyalgia), muscle aches, heart disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, immune system dysfunction, and many illnesses, as well as various sleep disorders. Lack of sleep or NRS is also related to safety issues such as car accidents and medical errors, plus impaired job performance and loss of productivity in numerous other activities.
THE STAGES OF SLEEP
Sleep is divided into two states known as non-rapid-eye-movement sleep (NREM) and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM). These two states occur in a ninety-minute cycle, which is repeated five to six times a night and includes at least four stages of NREM and REM. NREM sleep is the state from which REM sleep emerges. There are altogether five stages of sleep.
Stage 1 sleep. This first sleep stage is experienced as falling to sleep and is a transition stage between being awake and asleep. It usually lasts between one and five minutes and occupies approximately 2 to 5 percent of a normal night of sleep. This stage is dramatically prolonged in some people with insomnia who suffer from restless legs syndrome or disorders that produce frequent arousals such as sleep apnea.
Stage 2 sleep or theta sleep. Theta sleep follows Stage 1 and is the baseline of sleep. This stage is part of the ninety-minute cycle and occupies approximately 45 to 60 percent of the sleep cycle.
Stages 3 and 4 or delta sleep. Stage 2 sleep evolves into delta sleep or slow-wave sleep (SWS) in approximately ten to twenty minutes and may last fifteen to thirty minutes. It's called slow-wave sleep because brain activity slows dramatically from the theta rhythm of Stage 2 to a much slower rhythm of one to two cycles per second called delta; the height or amplitude of the waves increases dramatically as well. In most adults, these two stages are completed within the first two ninety-minute sleep cycles or within the first three hours of sleep. Contrary to popular belief, it is delta sleep (not REM) that is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. Delta sleep is what a sleep-deprived person's brain craves most. In children, delta sleep can occupy up to 40 percent of sleep time. This is what makes children difficult to awaken during most of the night.
Stage 5: REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep. This is a very active stage of sleep. It composes 20 to 25 percent of a normal night's sleep. Breathing, heart rate, and brain wave activity quicken. Vivid dreams often occur. Sleep specialists call this fifth stage of sleep REM because a person's eyes are moving rapidly. After the REM stage, the body usually returns to Stage 2, theta sleep.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?
Everyone is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sleep needs. Though most people need seven to nine hours, some people need as little as four hours while others need ten. The important thing to note is how you function during the day. Are you tired, sleepy, hungry, lacking in concentration, or irritable? If so, perhaps you are not getting enough sleep or you are not sleeping well.
You can determine the amount of sleep your body needs by following these recommendations. Go to bed at the same time each night and see when you naturally wake up without an alarm. Or, if you've been sleep-deprived, the next time you have two consecutive days when you can sleep in-perhaps a weekend or a vacation-sleep as much as you can the first couple of days. That way you can pay your sleep debt. Then, once your sleep has stabilized, record how much you sleep naturally without an alarm, plus or minus fifteen minutes. (You may have to go to bed extra early the third night if you have to get up early for work just to see when you naturally wake up.) That's your sleep need or capacity.
MAKING UP YOUR SLEEP DEFICIT
If you think you can go for a few days with much less sleep than normal and then get a good eight to nine hours, feel rested, and get right back on schedule, you may be disappointed. You'll have to make up your sleep deficit, say the experts. That means you will actually have to sleep the hours you missed to make up the difference.
Does that mean that if you've missed years of sleeping well, you'll have to become Rip Van Winkle-the character in a children's story who slept for twenty years? Not exactly. But while you won't have to hibernate for a year or two, you do need to sleep extra hours for a while. Many people find that at times they need even more make-up sleep than the hours of sleep lost because they're so exhausted. Harvard undergraduates, a high-achieving, sleep-deprived population, frequently go home for Christmas vacation and pretty much sleep for the first week.
Dr. Charles Czeisler, chair of Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep Medicine, says, "Someone restricted to only five hours of nightly sleep for weeks builds up a cumulative sleep deficit. In the first place, their performance will be as impaired as if they had been up all night. Secondly, it will take two to three weeks of extra nightly sleep before they return to baseline performance. Chronic sleep deprivation's impact takes much longer to build up, and it also takes much longer to recover."
Naps can help you make up a sleep deficit. Short naps, up to forty minutes, can be helpful. Otherwise, you'll go into deep sleep and be groggy when you wake up. If you need more sleep, nap for at least two hours, which will allow your body to slumber through a full ninety-minute sleep cycle and awaken refreshed.
THE LINKS AMONG SLEEP, HORMONES, AND WEIGHT LOSS
A number of studies have found direct links among lack of sleep, the hormones that get out of balance as a result, and weight gain. "Sleep loss disrupts a complex and interwoven series of metabolic and hormonal processes and may be a contributing factor to obesity," says John Winkelman, MD, PhD, medical director of the Sleep Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
When we don't get adequate sleep, some key hormones get out of whack, namely leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, insulin, and growth hormone. When this happens, we can end up with an uncontrollable appetite, and we often crave the most fattening foods. We won't be able to handle stress as well. And our deranged hormones can even cause us to sleep poorly, further compounding the problem.
HORMONES DISRUPTED BY LOSS OF SLEEP
Leptin. The hormone leptin regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates and signals the body when it should feel full and begin making fat; it is significantly affected by lack of sleep. When there are low levels of leptin, the body craves extra food, especially carbohydrates, regardless of whether or not adequate calories have been consumed. This can easily lead to weight gain. Ghrelin. Ghrelin triggers appetite and has been found at higher levels in those who get too little sleep. It also suppresses fat utilization in fat tissue. Insulin. The hormone insulin helps manage glucose metabolism. Low insulin levels cause increased appetite, poor sugar metabolism, and hypoglycemia. Continual big spikes and dips in insulin can cause insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes. Low insulin during the night can contribute to low blood sugar, known as nocturnal hypoglycemia, which can cause you to awaken and not get back to sleep. Cortisol. Cortisol plays a role in regulating appetite. The more balanced your cortisol levels, the easier it is to control your appetite. Too much of this stress hormone, on the other hand, can cause fat deposition, especially around the midsection. And if this hormone is secreted in high amounts during the night, you won't be able to sleep well. Growth hormone (GH). A lack of sleep can diminish the production of GH-a hormone that helps inhibit weight gain. GH plays an important role in controlling fat deposition and muscle development. Having less of this hormone increases your chances of not sleeping well and being overweight.
Excerpted from Sleep Away The Pounds by Cherie Calbom John Calbom Copyright © 2007 by Cherie Calbom and John Calbom. Excerpted by permission.
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