Over 40? Want to Burn more Fat? Get more sleep!

One of the things that I always stress to my clients when they are having a tough time losing weight is…Get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

There is overwhelming evidence that Women who get less than (5) five hours per night on average weigh more than Women who sleep 7-8 hours!

FACT: Studies have found that Women who slept for five hours or less per night were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain (major weight gain is defined as an increase of 33 pounds or more) and worse yet… they were 15% more likely to become obese compared with women who got at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night.

The main study that concluded with these startling facts included 68,183 middle-aged women over a 16 year period. This was the Nurses Health Study. On average, Women who were sleeping (5) five hours or less per night weighed 5.4 pounds more at the beginning of the study than those sleeping 7-8 hours and they actually gained an additional 1.6 pounds over the next 10 years.

Not surprisingly, not only did they have a higher % of weight gain than average, they were at an increase in risk of Diabetes and Hypertension.

Why we get less sleep now as opposed to 15-20 years ago

Sleep is essential. It’s the only time when our bodies replenish and recuperate; repairing the mental and physical wear-and-tear we all go through on a daily basis.

Our “always-on” culture has created a sleep-deprived generation. Cell phones, computers, PDAs and 24-hour cable television keep our brains stimulated, not to mention the 40 hour workweek that has somehow managed to become 50-55 hours.

This result is fatigue, poor health and, weight gain. (common sense tells us this is true).

The stages of sleep

It’s important to understand the connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain and in order to fully understand this, it is important to know how much quality sleep we need. Medical experts believe that adults require (7) seven to (8) eight hours of restful sleep a night.

Studies have shown that decreased amounts of REM sleep; “REM” stands for “Rapid Eye Movement.” can lead to an increased calorie intake.

There are (2) two phases of sleep: *Non-REM sleep and *REM sleep.

The Non-REM: Non-REM sleep is divided into four phases:

●Phase 1: In this phase, a person is between wake and sleep. The person can be awakened easily.

●Phase 2: A period of light sleep during which body temperature drops.

●Phase 3 and Phase 4: Phases during which a person experiences an increasingly deeper stage of sleep (delta sleep). During this vital restorative stage, the body is repairing itself, building bone and muscle and releasing certain hormones.

  • REM: REM is a phase where a person dreams. It’s a period of greater brain activity and much less muscle activity.

Sleep Apnea connected to excessive weight gain

Researchers have discovered that sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, may contribute more to obesity than they once thought. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a sleeping person stops breathing due to his/her airways are obstructed, or blocked.

Even though sleep apnea can affect anyone, it is far more common in overweight men. Other risk factors include being over the age of 40, a large neck and/or having a family history of the disorder. While a lot of people may just simply think sleep apnea is just a snoring problem, if left untreated, it could lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure and possibility of strokes.

*Another very important point: People who suffer from sleep apnea and other sleep disorders rarely get the 7-8 hours of much needed sleep per night and therefore run the risk of packing on extra pounds as well.

Sleep, Hormones and Weight Gain

Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite and Grehlin is a hormone that increases appetite. These are very important hormones that help the body control appetite and weight gain and loss. When lack of sleep becomes a common problem, levels of Grehlin increases, causing greater appetite, and levels of Leptin decrease. Regardless of diet and exercise, it’s possible that some obesity is caused, or made worse, by sleep deprivation.

Getting to Sleep to help you Lose Weight

If you are having problems with getting a good nights sleep, you might have a sleeping disorder and this may be a contributing factor causing you to gain weight, and have a lot less energy throughout the day. You should consider seeing a doctor, who can discuss some possible solutions to help restore your normal sleeping pattern.

Ask the doctor about visiting a sleep lab for evaluation. There, you will spend the night hooked up to electrodes where they can accurately monitor your sleep patterns. I have had several of my clients go this route and they have had great success. This process is  may also be covered by your insurance.

Following a regular exercise program will undoubtedly improve your quality of sleep Reducing or eliminating your intake of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco will also help you to get a better nights sleep.

Getting your sleep problems diagnosed and treated is a very important first step in accomplishing your weight loss goals.

*Lack of sleep may be keeping you from achieving weight loss success.

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