Thursday, February 3, 2011

Weight Loss Challenge: Lack of Sleep

Sleep is an important component to our having healthy bodies. We all know that. We realize that we function better when we have had ample sleep, when we don't feel the need to pump our bodies full of sugar and caffeine just to keep our eyelids open. But did you know that lack of sleep is a big challenge to our weight loss success?

Researchers are pretty much convinced that the facts that we are getting less sleep and weighing more are related and not merely coincidence. According to a study reported in 2008 there are direct associations between sleep loss and an increased risk of both obesity and diabetes.

Maybe sleeping in isn't such a bad thing after all!

Whether your lack of sleep is because you are trying to fit more into a day that doesn't get any longer (I used to say if I could just give up eating & sleeping maybe I could get it all done--ha!) or you have a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, or maybe because you wake up a lot because you are peri-menopausal your body is not getting the restorative benefits it needs from sleep. Notice the word "rest" within "restorative"...while we sleep our body rests and allows it to maintain health and wellness and to heal itself.

Sleep apnea is one of the major causes of lack of sleep. As women, we are more apt to experience sleep apnea after menopause. Interestingly that is also a time when many women gain weight. Sleep apnea appears to be much more widespread than anyone previously thought--many people with the disorder actually are undiagnosed.

Changing your sleep pattern by staying up late or getting up early affects your natural circadian rhythm. Our hormones rise and fall in rhythms throughout the day and night and key hormones Melatonin, cortisol and testosterone are time-based. By shifting our schedules we interrupt our natural hormone balance and that can cause weight gain.

Tomorrow I'll go into more about how lack of sleep negatively impacts our blood sugar and can make us hungrier!

Until then, have a great day and get a good night's sleep!

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