It’s no surprise that sleep is critical to your mental and physical well-being. Sleep isn’t just a time to let your brain relax, but it allows your body to regenerate.
During sleep, your muscles repair themselves, your white blood cells can reproduce, and even circulation improves given a consistent heartbeat and gravity working to its advantage. However, studies have shown that weight gain can be a dominating factor in sleep loss, as it pertains to sleep apnea.
There are many people who notice themselves gaining weight and actively seek ways to lose it. They may exercise, they may restrict greasy and fast foods from their diet, they may do everything you’re supposed to do and still gain weight.
This can be an extremely frustrating and humiliating experience, leading people to question, “What’s wrong with me?” While hormones and genes can also be a factor in weight gain, sleep is another contributing factor.
Our daily lives are filled with appointments and activities from the minute we wake up, to the minute we go to bed.
The first thing people tend to sacrifice is sleep. For many people, it’s hard enough to manage a job, relationships, children, or work/hobbies in their day-to-day life.
As a result, it’s time-costly just to work out for a few hours. Unfortunately, juggling all these activities around can lead to serious weight gain, making this especially unfortunate for people seeking to lose weight.
When the body does not get enough sleep, two hormones in particular are affected by severe shifts production: ghrelin and leptin.
Leptin has a habit of informing the body when its appetite has been sated; when you don’t want to eat anymore—Thanksgiving flashback. Ghrelin on the other hand balances the leptin hormone, informing the body when it needs to eat.
When the body hasn’t had enough sleep, leptin levels drop and ghrelin levels rise. Already this is sounding like a recipe for disaster.
Furthermore, when the body does not have sufficient time to sleep, all of its processes slow down. This not only affects muscle building, which is of course imperative when working out, but is also heavily critical when it comes to digestion and metabolism.
With these two functions slowing down, and appetites rising, the added intake of food is going to become fat. The body will be working so hard to stay awake and rejuvenate itself during the day, that burning fat and calories won’t come easily.
Several studies have proven that maintaining a healthy diet and consistent exercise will improve your physical condition, but this is only if you are getting enough sleep.
For instance, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently conducted a study over the course of 6 months. The study had half the participants engage in regular exercise, and the other half dedicated to a healthy diet.
The participants were able to record if they had any problems sleeping. The ones that did, did not lose as much weight as the participants who were on the exact same routine as their cohorts.
Bottom Line: If you want to lose weight, get better sleep!
Kim Bureros is the current Copywriter for SleepDisorders.com. She thoroughly enjoys writing, reading, kayaking, and volleyball. She also firmly believes that, “Building relationships is the key to success.”
Pain. Wake up. Stand up. Pain. Walk, sit, squat, kneel. Pain, pain, pain, pain. Get into a car, get out of a car. Pain, Pain. Sit for more than ten minutes, stand up for more than ten minutes. Pain and pain.
This was my life from November of 2009 and onward.
It was a stupid injury. I drove a truck (18-wheeler) with a tight clutch all night. Limped for about a week. Two days before I was going to see my doctor, I was getting back into the truck when the door slowly drifted closed. My left foot big toe brushed the door and turned my sore leg. POP!
The pain was incredible, like getting hit with a two by four.
They said ‘mal-tracking patella.’ I say popped knee cap. Everyone I tell says, “no big deal.”
Either way, what it translated to was that every time I straightened out my leg– POP, the knee cap shifted and I got pain.
It meant that when I walked on it, the leg and knee hurt. It meant that I limped, making the other leg get sore. It meant that every little misstep or unintended twist or accidental bump was like a renewal on my pain subscription. Later came the back and wrist pain (having to push up from any position takes its toll on the carpal tunnel thing).
Two surgeries and four different multi-week sessions of worker compensation paid for physical therapy later, and I was not better. And now I was out of a job. You can’t drive a truck, they said, we have nothing for you.
I am not the type to ask for or accept help from others. I was the “I can muddle through this and make things better on my own” type of person. Damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead.
But the bills were piling up, my pay had been drastically reduced (about $200 a week) for the year and a half while I was trying to get better. And the settlement money was barely enough to cover the really behind bills. And I found out that if you settle, there is no unemployment insurance to fall back on. So I looked for help and found the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department.
It is a four week program, where they test you and assess you, both physically and mentally. And they work with you to determine the extent of whatever disability you have and help you determine a future where you can work and contribute and stop feeling like such a drain on everyone. It is a program that helps people with work related injuries, life related injuries, mental and physical disabilities (like muscular dystrophy, autism, spinal cord injuries, and the list goes on).
They teach you how to deal with your limitations while not thinking along the lines of limitations.
And this has been the most important lesson I learned while working with these wonderful, caring people. Since November of 2009, I had been living with my disability. But what I had to understand and learn was that I needed to start dealing with my own limitations. I had been in denial, even as the doctors and therapists were telling me that there was nothing more they could do. I was working from the self imposed assumption that I was going to get better, and then things would be able to go back to normal.
What I realized while going through the program, almost in an epiphany moment, is that I needed to change my view of what had happened to me. I needed to see my injury as the life changing thing that it was. All the while seeing that I was not alone in this. There was a community of people, some with lesser degrees of disability, others with more severe problems that I couldn’t even fathom how they could cope with. But a community nonetheless.
I now understand that I will not get 100% better, but I will learn how to work with what I have. I now understand that I will never play basketball or football with my grandsons the way I had envisioned, but I can do it in ways that include my new knowledge of my limitations. I now understand that even though I will have limitations it doesn’t have to define me or what I do, but I can work within those changes in my life to still live a full life. I now understand that by dealing with my injury instead of just living with it, I can now actually live life again.
I know the pain will never fully go away, but I now know ways of limiting the pain. And I now know what it means; it means my body is telling me “you can’t do it that way anymore.” But that doesn’t have to mean I can’t do it a different way. It is almost like driving down a road you have taken to work for years and coming upon a collapse in the road. Instead of complaining that I can now not get to work, I have discovered an alternate way to get there.
They say not to let your disability define you. But I have found that this is not exactly the best thing. Your injury will always define something about you, however it doesn’t have to define who you are. It will only define your limitations; limitations that are only a challenge for you to discover a new road to take in life. For some it will be simply a new way to walk or a new way to lessen or avoid pain. For others it will be a change in career or mobility or a complete way of thinking. For all of us dealing with injury or disability, physical or mental or both, we are all different. But we are never truly alone. It may seem that way at times but we just need to reach out and ask for help, even if we’re not used to doing that.
It is a change in view, a change in the mechanics of living and, above all, a change in attitude. As Janney, one of my instructors who views life from a wheel chair due to cerebral palsy, always says, you need to have a positive attitude and at least fifteen good belly laughs a day.
I got my laughs in today. Did you?
About the Author
Charles B Reynolds has been blogging for four years, writing news, commentary, poems and recipes for just as long. He has been working on several books in several forms and formats for way too many years to like thinking about. A former genre writer from the 1990’s in the small press realm and romance writer on the internet, Charles is married to a wonderful woman who is also a writer and editor. He has three super talented children and two amazing grandsons. One thing he would say about himself that many people would be surprised is that he nearly ran as a write-in Independent candidate for the 2008 Presidential race. But his decision was vetoed by the family, who love their privacy too much to let the media hounds in. Outside of writing, Charles has a wide variety of interests, from history to composing music to enjoying a swim with his grandsons.
We’ve all got our challenges, and I guess one of mine is that I don’t always get enough sleep–which is unhealthy and can also affect my personal level of happiness in a big way.
And, since I know that I’m profoundly normal in this particular aspect of my life, I have put together the following list of tips from the experts on getting more sleep.
1. Quit drinking caffeine after 7 pm in the evening (or three hours before bedtime.) It sounds obvious for most, I’m sure, but I had to include this one because I’m guilty of sipping coffee in the evening hours on a pretty regular basis.
2. Get your exercise. Getting out and moving is not only a great way to increase your happiness in general, but it can significantly improve the quality and quantity of sleep. You’ll feel more like sleeping when you exercise–and you’ll sleep better.
3. Try EFT tapping. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique or Emotional Freedom Therapy (depending on who you ask.) The technique involves a series of acupressure, wherein you tap certain points on your body to create specific effects–including improved sleep, among other things.
4. Try not to eat three hours before bedtime, and especially snacks that involve grains or sugars. Why? Because grains and sugars will raise your blood sugar, giving you lower quality sleep. And, doctors say, when the blood sugar drops later, you could wake up and have trouble falling back asleep.
5. Sleep in darkness. Ok, I admit it, I’m guilty of sleeping with the bathroom light on and the TV tuned to a random sit-com. I could go into the reasons I do this and why it works for me, but that wouldn’t be helping either of us get more sleep. According to researchers, even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt your circadian rhythms, as well as your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which help to naturally induce and enhance restorative sleep. So, they recommend, sleep without lights or television (which also stimulates the brain and can reduce your chances of a good night’s sleep.)
So how about you? Do you find yourself giving up sleep to accommodate your busy schedule? What are your top tips for getting more or better sleep? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below!
When you hear people tell their “stories” they always talk about hitting rock bottom.
For the drug addict rock bottom was when he snatched the purse from the little old neighbor lady who used to bake him his favorite cookies in the winter, knocking her down and breaking her fragile hip.
For the alcoholic rock bottom was when she smacked her innocent child’s face in a fit of drunken anger or when he smashed his car into a tree killing his best friend.
Rock bottom is always a tragic story.
It’s never very pretty. Nobody ever says “I really hit rock bottom when I drank myself silly at a party and ran around the neighborhood naked on a dare.” No drug addicts story begins with “I knew I had to turn my life around when I was no longer able to afford my weekly massages at the spa.”
Rock bottom is always a gross, murky, muddy, messy, bloody, dirty, shameful tragic turning point in a person’s life. But even below all the muddiness, below all the layers of guilt, shame and filth, beyond the grief, beyond all of that… there shines a light. It may be a small little pin light that is barely flickering, but there’s a definite light.
You will also hear people say that you have to hit rock bottom before you can move forward.
I don’t know if I totally believe that. I don’t believe you have to be in the gutter before you can realize you’re on the wrong path. I don’t think you have to go ‘all the way’ before realizing you don’t like this roller coaster ride and you’d like to get of please. You don’t have to knock your elderly neighbor down, snatching her handbag, before you realize “hey, I think I might have screwed up somewhere along the way.”
But I do believe that there was a point in my life where I said “what in the hell am I doing to myself.” It wasn’t when I looked in a mirror. It wasn’t when my arse got stuck in a chair. It wasn’t when I stepped on the scale. It wasn’t even when I went shopping and couldn’t find anything in my size.
That defining moment, my “rock bottom” happened at work.
We had just had our company BBQ and a coworker had taken some pictures and sent them out via e mail to all of us. Amongst all the great pictues of the beach, the food, friends, the sunset there was my rock bottom.
I saw a picture of myself and didn’t even recognize me. I can sort of see my face in that picture but whose arms are those? Hey that big girl has on my shirt… and my skirt…and is standing next to my husband… kissing him… HEY! THAT’S ME!!!!
Oh my God. That is me. I quickly closed the picture but I knew everybody else in the office would see it. But hey, it’s what they see in me every day. That is what I look like. That is what everybody at the office sees when they look at me. That is what people see in the grocery store, in the mall, in the bank. Everywhere I go, that is what people see. THAT is what I look like.
I went home that night and cried. I laid on my bed and just cried. Marco came and laid with me, held me close and asked me what was wrong. Between sniffles and sobs I managed to get it out.
“I’m so gross. I can’t believe what I’ve done to myself. Look at me!”
Of course he said all the right things. He told me how wonderful I was, how beautiful I was. what a great person I am.
He said everything a husband is supposed to say. But as much as I knew that he meant what he was saying, I also knew that I could not go on this way.
From that day on we made changes.
Yes we, he and I, both made changes. He vowed to help me in whatever way he could and from that day on we began our new journey together. We haven’t turned back since.
So I didn’t need to have a heart attack at 40 to snap myself into reality. I didn’t have to learn that I have diabetes before saying “Wake up Sarah!”. All I needed was one picture, one life changing, defining picture was enough to show me that little pin light flickering in the dark.
Have you hit “rock bottom” before? How did it feel? What did you do next? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.
As I have gone through the journey to create my best life, there were a few bumps and bruises along the way, such as the time I found out I had sleep apnea due in part to the extra weight I was carrying around at the time. The following is a post I wrote back in 2006 regarding the way I felt about myself and my life. So much has changed since then!
I am 31 years old. I have two beautiful children and a wonderful husband. We aren’t rich, but we manage to get by and even have a few luxuries.
I feel like I have “it all”, so to speak. I can’t really complain too much. Of course, there are things that I want, but most of those, I could give to myself if I just got off my butt (literally and figuratively) and worked hard.
I want to be a successful writer. I could be if I worked hard at it. I want to be healthy so I can live to take care of my kids. I could be if I worked hard at it. What else? Not much, really. I’m very satisfied with most of my life. So what is stopping me from achieving those two not-so-tiny goals?
Pure laziness, pure exhaustion, plain and simple. I know what to do, and I even know how to do it—but I am constantly exhausted. I barely have the energy to do what I have to in order to take care of my family.
So, Wednesday, I had a minor procedure to remove an errant IUD. That might help a little. Then, yesterday, I went to the doctor to find out that not only do I have high blood pressure, but I also probably have sleep apnea—which could be causing my exhaustion.
Hmm, imagine. So I have to go and get a sleep study done, and will most likely be expected to sleep from now on with a machine on my face. Okay, I pretty much already knew I had sleep apnea but had no idea it could be causing so many of my other problems.
So I am going to look at this as a good thing. Perhaps I will gain the energy I need to meet my goals and to be a better mom and wife. To be a better me. Sounds perfect.
Well, here’s the bottom line. I am learning (the hard and painful way) that if I don’t take care of ME, I won’t be around much longer to take care of anyone else. So I am committing to that, today, right now as I’m typing this.
I will start taking care of ME. I will work to get healthy so that I can accomplish my goals and dreams. If I don’t do it, no one else will do it for me. It’s time that I take a stand for myself, and do something to improve the quality of MY life, and in so doing, the lives of my family. Okay, I’ll get off the soapbox now.