It’s the first week of January. Drive by any fitness center and you’ll see a parking lot full of new and rededicated members. Trying to shed pounds through a treadmill takes an enormous amount of time and energy. Although we applaud those who want to tone and boost stamina, weight loss this way is a long, slow process. This is probably why the parking lot will look much differently by the end of March.
Want to lose weight? Begin by checking your quality of sleep. Through scientific research, we now have a better understanding of how the brain functions and plays a prominent role in our lives.
Based on findings surrounding the importance of restful sleep, I decided to become trained in oral sleep devices to offer to our patients in need years ago. The severe (and even deadly) health repercussions of sleep disorders made me determined to help heavy snorers and sleep apnea sufferers.
The National Sleep Foundation points out that people who suffer from disorders like sleep apnea may find it harder to begin or sustain an exercise program due to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. However, being overweight not only contributes to sleep problems such as sleep apnea, sleep problems can contribute to obesity.
The National Sleep Foundation cites a 1999 study by scientists at the University of Chicago. The study found that accumulating a sleep debt in just less than a week can impair metabolism and disrupt hormone levels. The study restricted 11 healthy young adults to 4 hours of sleep for 6 nights. Researchers found the participants’ ability to process glucose (sugar) in the blood not only declined, some fell to the level of diabetics. (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/obesity-and-sleep/page/0/1)
In another recent study, it was revealed that sleep quality affects the mix of gut bacteria that impacts whether you are lean or obese. The natural circadian rhythm of our bodies has peaks and lulls that determine certain functions, such as when to sleep. Apparently, intestinal bacteria have a circadian rhythm, too. These help in the production of serotonin and neuro-transmitters that influence sleep.
During sleep, good gut bacteria sweep away the build-up of ‘bad’ bacteria. Researchers noted that insufficient sleep can hamper the ability of the good bacteria to sweep out the bad kind. This leads to an imbalance of the two, which can contribute to anxiety, depression, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), ADD, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Weight gain and obesity from insufficient sleep has to do with the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite while leptin sends the brain a message when you are full.
Lack of sleep suppresses the production of leptin, leaving you feeling less satisfied after eating. Too little sleep makes this worse by increasing ghrelin levels, which stimulates your appetite so you are hungry more often. When these two hormonal imbalances collide, the result is weight gain.
Now that scientists have found the additional complication of imbalanced intestinal bacteria, sleep is taking a higher priority in healthy living commitments. While the recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours each night, though, nearly 35% of American adults get less.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. In addition to weight gain and obesity, sleeping less than seven hours is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, migraines, depression and impotency. (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html)
Symptoms of sleep apnea are typically daytime fatigue, being more accident prone, nodding off easily during the day, poor attention span and alertness, and feeling cranky or unmotivated. It has been said that sleep apnea sufferers behind the wheel are more dangerous than drunk drivers.
In the past, a common remedy for sleep apnea has been CPAP therapy. However, many who have the devices are not consistent users, citing feeling confined, claustrophobic, embarrassed or being uncomfortable with the noise. For those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, we make custom-fitted, FDA-approved oral devices that are small and comfortable so they do not interfere with sleep.
Begin with a free consultation to have your questions answered thoroughly. We can discuss costs, payment options and even put you in touch with patients who have opted for oral appliance therapy and now sleep restfully every night!
Don’t give up on the treadmill, though. Just give your potential to lose weight a leg up by tending to your quality of sleep. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.