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Posted on 01-30-2017
One absolutely vital factor in weight loss that is often ignored—by both health professionals and by individuals—is sleep. It has been shown that it is much more difficult to lose weight without adequate sleep—and that the less you sleep, the more likely you are to gain weight—even when you are trying to lose it!
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness or EDS is a real and a common problem—according to some estimates, it occurs in about 30% of the general public. It is associated with psychiatric, cardiometabolic, and sleep disorders, and is closely associated with depression, obesity, and sleep apnea. Obesity is also a major risk factor for EDS—and when people lose weight, the EDS can become “cured”.
One common cause of EDS—also associated with obesity—is sleep apnea, or the disruption of normal breathing patterns during the night. People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can fight to breathe during the night. Often, they wake up (slightly) many times as a result. These episodes of partially awake states disrupt the natural sleep cycles which consist of cycles of lighter and deeper sleep. As the end result, the person with OSA doesn’t get a good night of sleep and feels drowsy or fatigued during the day. Besides obesity, OSA is associated with high blood pressure and snoring.
Insomnia and a condition called narcolepsy can also cause EDS. Insomnia has many different causes, but indicates either trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep.
Obesity and Sleep
Not every overweight person has OSA and not every person with OSA is overweight. However, if you don’t get enough sleep, there are both physical and psychological reasons that make it more difficult to lose weight.
Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
There are a number of ways to help yourself get a better night’s sleep.
Eating right and getting some exercise are the obvious approaches to a healthy weight—but remember the not-so-obvious and just as important “sleep well” and “relax well” too! Remember, good health comes from daily decisions. Don’t get bogged down if you have a lot of changes to make. Just focus on one day (or one meal or one hour) at a time. . . and celebrate your successes by noticing the way you feel. For just today, drink more water, consume more vegetables, get some daily exercise, and a goodnight’s sleep and if you can meditate for a few minutes that’s great too. And tomorrow when you wake up, try to do it again… for just “today”. Remember, YOU have the power to transform your health … ONE healthy choice at a time!
 Fernandez-Mendoza, Julio, et al. “Natural history of excessive daytime sleepiness: role of obesity, weight loss, depression, and sleep propensity.” (2015).
 Markwald, Rachel R., et al. “Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110.14 (2013): 5695-5700.
 Schmid, Sebastian M., Manfred Hallschmid, and Bernd Schultes. “The metabolic burden of sleep loss.” The lancet Diabetes & endocrinology 3.1 (2015): 52-62.
 Moraes, Danilo Alves, Daniel Paulino Venancio, and Deborah Suchecki. “Sleep deprivation alters energy homeostasis through non-compensatory alterations in hypothalamic insulin receptors in Wistar rats.” Hormones and behavior 66.5 (2014): 705-712.
 Cain, Sean W., et al. “Enhanced preference for high-fat foods following a simulated night shift.” Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health 41.3 (2015): 288-293.
 St-Onge, M. P., et al. “Sleep restriction increases the neuronal response to unhealthy food in normal-weight individuals.” International journal of obesity 38.3 (2014): 411-416.
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