Friday, January 22, 2010

Effect of Sleep on Weight Loss

Gearing myself up to lose 100 in 12 months, I have implemented many of the common techniques for losing weight.

Modified my eating habits...check!

Began a daily exercise program...check!

Drink plenty of water...check!

Get an average of 7 or more hours of sleep each night...screeeeetch...huh?

Though I've heard several times that the amount and quality of sleep that we get each night can directly correlate to our weight loss efforts, I pretty much ignore that.  Yeah...whatevs.

I'm a night owl.  I remember growing up and my mom would literally stay up until 2:00 am or so each night, usually reading a book, working on the computer or watching TV.  As a mom I now realize that late nights are a stay-at-home mom's only "me time".  With 5 8 kids (long story), it is no wonder my mom stayed up so late every night (actually she still does, but only has 2 kids left at home!).

I only have 3 kids, but my average bedtime is 1:30 am.  And then I get up at 7:00.  So an average of 5.5 hours of sleep per night.  Not too different than a lot of America, but still less than recommended anyway.  And then there are nights like last night when I get some crazy surge of a second wind, or a bout of insomnia or something and end up staying up until...oh...3:30 am or something insane.  When I do that though, it is a sad domino effect the next day.  For example, I decided to sleep on the couch b/c I knew hubs had to get up at 5:30 to head to his men's group and I didn't want to wake him.  Then I wasn't in my regular routine, so I didn't set an alarm.  Instead I work up when hubs called me after his men's group - at ten to 8.  THEN I feel uber-groggy and like I'm moving through molasses.

Take the dog out...slowly.

Go to the bathroom...slowly.

And then make it as far as the recliner, with a blanket and my laptop to type a post about this...telling myself I need to 'ease into' waking up because I'm so tired.  And has my workout happened yet?  Nope.  But it will!  I promise!

So what are the facts about the effects of sleep on weight loss?

Interesting...this USA Today article from December 2004 says that new research (in '04) showed that sleep deprivation increases a hunger hormone while decreasing the hormone that tells your body when you are full.  Recipe for overeating right there!

WebMD says "Sleep Your Way to Weight Loss" in an October 2005 web article.  It quotes a study of over 700 men & women in Canada.  Those who averaged 7-8 hours of sleep a night were leaner than those who got 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night (

Complicating Factors:

Being overweight/obese often is a cause of sleep apnea, a disorder that causes individuals to get restless sleep anyway, further compounding the sleep deprivation issue.  I have never been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but I have awoken on my own and at the urging of my husband because I was holding my breath in my sleep.  Weird...and kinda scary.  So that means that if I am coming out of REM sleep (or never getting into it) at night because of sleep apnea, AND I only was in bed *sleeping* for 6 hours or less, my body probably only got something like 50% of the time in actual restful sleep.

Another complicating factor?  Late night snacking.  It makes perfect sense.  The later & longer you are awake, the more snacking you will likely do.  I did have a fudge pop last night at midnight...but I did refrain from further snacking in the following 3.5 hours that I remained awake.  But in my former life I would have snacked the entire time...guarantee it.  Even still, eating at midnight isn't the best idea either.

(note: this is not my fridge)

I exasperate my husband with my comments and schedules that reflect a need to get to bed at a decent hour (ie - 11:00 pm) and get a solid 8 hours of sleep...but yet I don't follow my own advice.  Any of the rest of you struggle with the sleep thang?  I wanna hear about it...OR from those of you who are really great at getting 8 hours of sleep each night...your comments would be helpful too!

PS - I confess that I 'dozed off' no less than 10 times while writing this post.  How effective is that?


  1. I am a night owl as well. I used to stay up late playing online games. Now I watch tv or read or read blogs and then by the time I fall asleep my 20 mmonth old is up. She still nurses and most of the time she wants an all night nursing session so I have a very broken night of sleep. I don't know what to do until she works herself to weaning. I know this affects my moods as well as my weightloss (and eating patterns).

    sory I don't have advice for ya. just keep trying to remind yourself you need the sleep. good luck :)

  2. Well, I never used to be a night owl, but seem to have picked up the habit lately. Fortunately, I don't have little ones at home or a 9-5 to get to, so if I stay up working late at night, its just less to do the next. However, I always feel better when I'm in bed before midnight. Maybe the rumor that it's the sleep we get before midnight that counts the most is right?

  3. I have heard this too. Please note posting at 11pm...
    Must sleep so I can lose weight! You are doing well girl! Keep it up.

  4. I set the kitchen timer tonight after I had the kids down and had done my straightening up so that I had 1 hour to watch TV/work on the computer/read/whatever I decided to do...and that alarm is about to go off in 5 I should be in bed before midnight tonight, which is a step in the right direction! We'll see how it goes...thanks for the encouragement!