Sleep and Diet – The Information We Ignore

 

The American culture is fast-paced, and lack of sleep can be brushed off as a humorous rite of passage into adulthood.  New parenthood and work weeks of 50-80 hours are two examples of common ways our society justifies lack of sleep. As sufferers of sleep apnea know, the importance of sleep is often minimized even though it affects many aspects of an individuals well being.  When dealing with matters of weight loss, it is easy to overlook something as seemingly insignificant as sleep.  This article will pull together some old and new research that suggests that it’s all interrelated.

 

Sugar and Sleep

A recent article on news-medical.net suggest some interesting points regarding lack of sleep and its impact on an individual’s sugar cravings.  Dr. Ananya Mandal summarizes the findings of a study done with a sample group of under 50 healthy adults. Split into two groups, each one was given separate tasks. The first group was not to do anything differently than usual.  The second group was told to get an additional hour and a half of sleep a night.  They were also given directives regarding caffeine and food intake and a relaxation routine prior to bed time.  

Unsurprisingly, the second group got more sleep and were also found to have reduced their sugar intake the following day.  

She also confirmed with another sleep professional that “only raising total bed time duration by an hour or so was necessary to making better and healthier food choices….it has already been studied previously that poor sleep meant poor diets.”  

This one small study led to further investigation regarding sleep and its correlation to diet. Our findings went from a micro to a macro level quickly.

 

Looking at Our Health as a Whole

Sleep is a common answer to most of our health-related questions.  We all know that rest is a key factor for curing common malaise.  Why is it then so hard for us to consider that more rest may help us with other health-related concerns?  Looking at weight-gain in a similar fashion (as our body’s way of indicating that we are doing something wrong – like a cold), it stands to reason that more rest can play a significant role.

An interesting article from the National Sleep Foundation offers several examples of studies that bring relevancy to this discussion.  The article mentions that “an estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea” – which is something Dr. Rogers has studied in great detail.  Unfortunately, obesity can be a commonality with sleep apnea sufferers.  Since sleep apnea often leads to lack of sleep, these individuals are less likely to diet and exercise.  Further, even with proper diet and exercise, lack of sleep can still be a weight-loss inhibitor.  The study referenced showed a tie between minimal sleep levels and hormone characteristics of diabetics.  

If an individual has issues with accomplishing weight loss even with proper diet and exercise, it’s recommended to evaluate the time of day exercise takes place.  Exercise is recommended between morning and late afternoons, and no later than 3 hours prior to bedtime.  The interesting reason for limiting later workouts is that the body needs a cool down before bed.

One final piece to ponder – “people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.”  Additionally, “the psychological manifestations of fatigue, sleep and hunger are similar.”  The answer seems easy – sleep more to eat less.

Although sleep is crucial, exactly how and why may not be known.  But a good night’s rest is something we all need for our overall health.  If you or someone you know struggles with sleep deprivation or weight troubles, suggest a sleep study.  If you or someone you know struggles with sleep apnea, suggest that they come see us at Pittsburgh Dental Sleep Medicine.  We are here to help them!

 

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