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Your Sleep Habits Affect Your Weight

12:22 PM, May 2, 2011   |    comments
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Emily Hoffman, Clinical Dietician at Memorial Hospital has some insightful tips about how sleep impacts your weight loss goals.

Do you suffer from intense cravings that will make you drive to the next town for a hot fudge Sundae or your favorite donuts? Have you struggled with your weight for most of your life? Have you had a gym membership for years but don't seem to have the energy to workout?


If so, take a look at your sleeping habits, you may not be getting enough sleep. Research suggests that the quality and quantity of sleep you get are contributing factors for weight gain, fatigue, mood disorders, diabetes, and heart disease.


Why is sleep so important?

All mammals need sleep. Here is what goes on in your body during deep sleep.

-         growth hormone production

-         tissue growth and repair

-         lowered blood pressure

-         regulation of energy storage and the ratio of hormones that control your appetite.

-         memory consolidation and recall

-         decreased stress hormone production (cortisol and adrenaline)

-         production of hormones that fuel the immune system


Your goal is to maintain or lose weight, so get enough sleep.  People who don't get enough sleep tend to have bigger appetites, because your leptin level (a hormone that regulates your appetite, decreases; causing your appetite increase. Also, the feeling of fatigue, sleep and hunger are similar, which means that you may head to the pantry instead of the bed. Without enough sleep, you make be hindering your ability to lose weight, even if you are exercising and eating well. A recent study from the International Journal of Obesity, showed that people trying lose weight on a diet and exercise plan, who slept between 6-8 hours, had a greater chance of achieving their weight loss goals than those who did not.


Some people (over 18 million Americans) suffer from disordered sleeping, like sleep apnea, a disorder associated with people who are overweight or obese. People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing while they are sleeping.  This disorder is related to stroke, heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure or daytime sleepiness.



How much sleep do you need each night?*

Newborn (0-2 months)

12-18 hours- including naps

Infants (3-11 months)

14-15 hours- including naps

Toddlers (1-3 years)

12-14 hours includes 1 nap

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

11-13 years includes 1 nap

School-age kids (5-10 years)

10-11 hours

Teens (10-17 years)

8 ½ - 9 ¼ hours


7-9 hours

Older Adults

6 ½ - 7 ½ + 1 hour nap

* According to the National Sleep Foundation


If your goal is weight loss or maintenance, get enough sleep. Setting a good example for your family is important, not only just with your diet and exercise, but also with your sleep habits. Here are some tips to help you get a good night sleep.

-         Keep a regular bed and wake up time, even on the weekends- both for you and the kids

-         Finish eating 2-3 hours before going to bed to avoid reflux, fullness and discomfort

-         Try not to nap during the day, if you do, limit to 10-15 minutes

-         Get 30 minutes sun exposure in the morning to help you wake up, avoid bright lights in the evening. Help set your body's clock.

-         Get regular exercise, finish 4-6 hours prior to bedtime.

-         Restrict caffeine to before 10 am, or give it up all together. Caffeine affects you sleep patterns for up to 10-12 hours after consumption.  It could cause to you to wake up more frequently during the night, causing you to get less quality sleep.

-         Don't bring business or homework into the bedroom; no TV either. Keep the bedroom a quiet place for sleep and rest.

The preceeding information was provided by Emily Hoffman, Clinical Dietician at Memorial Hospital.

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