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Sleep More, Weigh Less

Doctor Q&A

Clinical Coordinator with Shawnee Mission Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Center

It’s a catch 22 – poor sleep patterns can lead to weight gain, and weight gain can lead to poor sleep. If you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to overeat during the day and less likely to exercise. This can lead to weight gain, sleep deprivation or even a sleep disorder.

Skimping on shut-eye affects more than energy and willpower. Some studies suggest that sleep deprivation triggers the body to release more appetite-regulating hormones, including ghrelin. This hormone stimulates appetite and fat production, which leads people to eat more and gain weight.

How much sleep do I need?

As a general guideline, most adults should start with getting 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep each night to help maintain healthy sleep patterns. However, this amount can vary between individuals (check out sleep recommendations by age group). Some people need as little as 6.5 hours of sleep, while others need closer to 10 hours. It’s also important to keep in mind that even if you get 8 hours of sleep each night, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting enough. The quality of sleep you get counts as much as the quantity.

Tips for better sleep

Here are some tips for getting better quality sleep:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time. Establishing a routine is a good way of training your body to get the most out of every night of sleep. It will make it easier to fall asleep and wake up, even on the weekends.
  • Turn off electronic devices. This includes televisions, laptops and mobile phones. If possible, try to keep these items out of the bedroom.
  • Exercise earlier in the day. Getting your heart rate up is great for your body, but it may make it difficult to fall asleep. Allow at least a few hours between exercising and your bedtime to allow your body enough time to cool down and recover before trying to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed. All of these can disrupt your sleep patterns and keep you restless throughout the night.
 

I recommend being proactive about getting enough sleep to avoid packing on pounds. Sleep should be a priority. Our bodies need to rest in order to rejuvenate, and not giving your body that opportunity can lead to consequences down the road.

Find out if your sleep is affecting your health by taking a free SLEEPaware risk assessment. If deemed at risk, you’ll receive a complimentary phone consultation with a sleep specialist from Shawnee Mission Health.