Is Your Lack of Sleep Stunting your weight loss?
Cognitive impairment after just 18 hours without sleep is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%, 0.10% after 24 hours (legally drunk). 71,000 non-fatal car accidents per year caused by tired drivers. The Guinness book of World Records no longer keeps a record for sleep deprivation because it is considered too dangerous. In the US, $63 BILLION is lost in productivity loses every year due to sleep deprivation! In fact, there is an organizational lost to insufficient sleep.
AND sleep deprivation may be the reason you’re not losing weight! (click HERE for more reasons why we need sleep)
There's lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight. The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.
Now, a new study finds evidence that sleep deprivation (getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night) produces higher peaks of a lipid in our bloodstream known as an endocannabinoid (very similar cannabis!) that may make eating more pleasurable. So basically, our bodies produce compounds that act on the same area of the brain as marijuana (marijuana munchies anyone?). It turned out that when participants were sleep deprived, they ate about 400 more calories from snacks (that’s almost a pound a week worth of extra calories)! There have been other studies that have shown that weight loss is MUCH harder in dieters who are sleep deprived. This means that you may still not lose weight even if you are doing “everything right” in terms of restricting calories, diet and exercise.
So now that we know that sleep is SUPER IMPORTANT, let’s look at some of the things that inhibit our sleep. This biggest culprit is blue light.
Blue light is produced by our electronics (TV, iphone, ipad, etc) and it suppresses melatonin production – a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms. Instead of calming ourselves before bed, watching TV or scrolling on our iPhones before bed actually wakes us up, making it harder to fall asleep and makes our sleep less restful. SO try turning those off at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, take a bath, read a book, or talk to a significant other or friend – we need a wind-down time as much as our kids do!
Nighttime Light: It’s not only blue light, but any nighttime light expose affects our sleep. It doesn’t take prolonged or intense exposure to nighttime light in order to cause problems. Research shows even dim light can interfere with circadian function and sleep, triggering increased risks for disease. The light of a table lamp is bright enough to have a significant impact. For all you doctors and medical experts out there here are 5 Serious Medical Condition liked to Nighttime Light Exposure: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol, Caffeine, Spicy Food, and Chocolate, can keep you up at night. Try eating them earlier in the day. Limit caffeinated beverages to 1-2 cups per day and stop drinking them after noon. Similarly, for a restful sleep, any alcohol should be consumed 3 hours before bed.
There are steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of nighttime light exposure.
Avoid unnecessary and excessive exposure to evening light. This doesn’t mean you need to succumb to complete darkness at sundown. But become aware of your nighttime environment and look for ways to reduce the amount of artificial light. Taking steps to reduce and eliminate nighttime exposure to artificial light is an important step in protecting health in our modern, lights-always-on age. Some ideas: Close your curtains to block the streetlight that shines in your window and use the dimmer switches to lower levels of light throughout the house after dinner.
Block bright and blue light on screens. Increasingly, digital devices are equipped with blue-light blocking filters and timers to reduce brightness at night. There are also several apps available that perform these functions (f.lux is a good one). In addition, you can attach blue-light blocking filters directly to screens themselves, or use blue-light blocking glasses.
Power down. I recommend a Power Down Hour before bedtime. Spend the 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow away from television, phone, and other screens and electronics. Ideas: read, journal, take a bath, or talk to someone.
Get Better Bulbs. A Power Down Hour doesn’t mean you have to sit in the dark. There are now commercially available light products that will filter out the “blue spectrum” of light, which causes most of the problem, while still providing enough light for reading or other activities.
Sleep in the dark—and avoid middle-of-the-night light exposure. Take steps to ensure that you’re sleeping in the dark, including using timers on bedroom lights and devices, and covering windows to block outside light. Even a fleeting burst of exposure to light during the night can throw your circadian rhythms off track. Install dim, or specialty nightlights in bathrooms or hallways to avoid having to turn on other lights.
Get plenty of light exposure throughout the day. Light exposure during the day boosts attention and alertness, improves mood and cognitive function, strengthens circadian rhythms and can help you sleep better at night. Light can provide terrific benefits to health, when used in the right ways. Light therapy is used to treat a range of conditions, from sleep problems and jet lag to depression and dementia.
Homework: Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night this week
More Helpful Information:
For more information on sleep, check out the Sleep Doctor: https://www.thesleepdoctor.com
Other resources to help you lose weight while sleeping: Sleepy Bliss and Tuck Sleep
Checkout the below handout and infographic for other tips on improving your sleep!