Practical Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle: How Important is Sleep?

Practical Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle: How Important is Sleep?
Practical Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle: How Important is Sleep?

Dr. Richa Mittal

Over the next few weeks I will be giving you a series of practical tips on how to maintain your health.  

Are you sticking to a healthy diet and not seeing the results you think you should?

There could be other health factors holding you back?

Even if you are not someone who is struggling with weight, you will find that applying the tips below will help you on your journey to wellness. 

  1. Get enough sleep.

Decreased amounts of sleep and low sleep quality lead to increased levels of hunger hormones and lower levels of hormones related to down-regulation of weight.

What is the right amount of sleep?

According to the National Health Interview Survey (1977-2009), too little sleep and too much sleep were associated with obesity. Very short sleep (less than 5 hrs) had 30% overweight and 2x the rate of obesity. Short sleep (5-6 hrs) had 20% overweight and 57% increased obesity. Sleep duration of7-8 hrs is considered ideal.

Look to a future post on tips for how to optimize sleep.

  1. Treat underlyingobstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is abnormal breathing during sleep that causes one to wake up multiple times, have fragmented sleep, and lack of oxygen to brain, heart, lungs and other organs.

Needless to say this is a major stress on the heart and lungs. It is also associated with weight gain and obesity. Sleep apnea increases hormones that cause hunger and decreases hormones that regulate weight.

How do you know if you are at risk?

Your physician may screen you for this based on the size of your neck. Also, a partner may note you gasping in your sleep, waking up startled, or snoring.

You may note daytime sleepiness, headaches, and trouble concentrating.

If you have been struggling with your weight and have sleep apnea, you will have trouble losing weight unless you get treatment for the apnea.  

Talk to your physician about being tested if you have any of the above symptoms as apnea not only affects weight, but your heart health as well. 

  1. Decrease stress.

Stress hormones released on a regular basis affect your brain and the centers involved in weight regulation.

Find activities like meditation, yoga, exercise or hobbies that allow you to decrease stress.  In our modern, fast-paced lifestyle, we need to make this a priority.