Articles on sleep and weight

Lack of Sleep Makes You Gain Weight

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
You are too busy to eat and yet you are putting on weight. Are you getting enough sleep? Maybe this is what really sabotaging your weight and not your diet. Lack of sleep makes us crave more cups of coffee/tea or high sugar food like biscuits to perk us up. All this result in added calories. Besides if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. Getting little or disturbed sleep causes hormonal imbalance which leads to weight gain. Sleep is very important. Here are some facts about how sleep might be affecting your health -Lead you to Overeating: Many studies have shown that your diet and your sleep patterns are related. Lack of sleep can lead to disturbed physiology of your body. So, when you do not get enough sleep it may lead to cravings and over-consumption of calories because when you are craving for food it is so easy to get tempted to reach for a cup of coffee and a doughnut for a quick shot of energy. But this will only adds up to your weight so sleeping at least eight hours each night helps you in managing your weight.Hormonal imbalance: Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep increases the chances of getting obese. Many studies have shown that when you do not sleep enough it disturbs your hormonal balance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its affect on appetite and disturbed level of ghrelin hormone leads to increased appetite. Disturbed hormones level also lead to irritation or frustration feeling without any specific reason.Effects your metabolism: When your body is deprived of sleep your metabolism slows down and will not function properly. It directly affects your weight loss as your body is not working effectively in burning the calories. That slowdown triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which increases appetite. Your body thinks it needs more energy and that’s why you feel hungry.For better health and to manage your weight it is important to get 8 hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble sleeping try to have a routine of at least 30 minutes exercise during the day and keep pre-bedtime activities relaxing.

Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Sleep is a fundamental requirement just like food and diet is for the functioning of a healthy body. Sleep even lays the ground work for a productive day ahead. Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 1998 Women and Sleep Poll found that the average woman aged 30-60 sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek.Studies show that women need more sleep than men. "Poor sleep certainly had a more profound effect on women than on men," says Edward Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine "One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. During deep sleep, the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for thought, memory, language and so on — disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode,” Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in England, told The Australian. "The more of your brain you use during the day, the more it needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need. Women tend to multi-task — they do lot at once and are flexible — and so they use more of their actual brain than men do.”It follows that, if men used their brains more during the day, they would need a couple of extra hours too. "A man who has a complex job that involves a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking may also need more sleep than the average male — though probably still not as much as a woman,” Horne said. Getting the right amount of sleep is vital, but just as important is the quality of your sleep. Biological conditions of women are unique, like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. All of these conditions can affect how well a woman sleeps. This is because the changing levels of hormones that a woman experiences throughout the month and over her lifetime, like the levels of estrogen and progesterone, have an impact on sleep.Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of heart disease and obesity because lack of sleep causes increases secretion of the leptin hormone, which leads to excessive food cravings and may cause obesity. This even causes heart disease if left untreated. Lack of sleep leads to diabetes due to increased levels of the stress hormone, which stimulates the production of insulin and causes high blood sugar level, as well as more stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. However, these associations were weaker for men.So go to bed at the same time every day of the week, avoid heavy meals before bed, establish a relaxing bedtime routine, nap occasionally to make up for lost sleep, eat healthy and exercise daily.

3 Reasons That Are Making You Lose Your Sleep

Ms. Damini Grover, Psychologist
Days turn into weeks and you can do everything except sleep! Isn't it? With a crazy lifestyle that we have, it has become just about normal, to lose our sleep over anything and everything.Before we know it, it turns into a routine affair. One day turns into days and then weeks and our; good night's sleep is eaten away by thoughts, images, events, dilemmas, self-doubt and worry. Gradually, we find ourselves getting more and more into a cycle of anxiety and depression.Just like the idea of switching off our phones for a while seems like a ridiculous thought; the idea of shutting off the mind for a while feels the same.But if we know that we must sleep for at least 6-7 hours every night, why can't we do it?Here's why:We don't know how to take a break! Rather, we don't know what a break means.It's not just about taking time off for a holiday or vacation; it's about taking time off from the routine affairs of life. If the situation demands us to choose between what we want to do and what we should do, we would always go for the former. Why? Heavens will not fall, if we skip some routine activities. Because we don't skip some activities, the mind forgets to differentiate between the important and the not-so-important. Therefore, it becomes a magnet which keeps attracting all kinds of thoughts. Hence, you are up all night thinking about random things.Plan before you go off to sleep, not during!Yes,planning is boring. It's geeky, time consuming and many more things. But what it also is-a helping hand for uncertain situations. We can't plan everything in life and we don't need to plan everything in life. But for the things that we can, it's always smarter to do it in advance so that you can go off to bed comfortably and not worry about what will happen, how will it happen, what will you do etc. Once you know, you have done all that you could, it would take a load off your mind!Not addressing emotional concernsWe all go through anxiety, low moods, anger, irritation etc. We all can handle a certain amount of emotional turmoil. But if the mood states persist for a longer duration and start interfering in other areas of life, they are bound to impact the body's normal functioning as well. Thus, affecting appetite and sleep. Therefore, it's important to talk it out and deal with the emotions instead of deferring them. You can talk to people close to you or you can even seek professional help.We don't know how to relax!Learning how to relax is important. It's important to indulge in activities that keep us closer to ourselves. Pursuing any hobby, socializing, learning relaxation techniques is as important as holding a job, earning money, managing the house, kids, studies etc.The more we progress in life, the less attention we pay to our own biological and natural needs. Since we can't sleep, we might as well wake up and do something that can out us back to sleep!Sleep well. Stay healthy. Feel good!

Weight Loss Can Prevent and Cure Sleep Apnea

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Apnea literally means "cessation of breath." If you have sleep apnea, your breath can become very shallow or you may even stop breathing while you are asleep. This state of not breathing can occur for 10 seconds in an hour, or in severe cases, the frequency of cessation of breath may further increase. The repeated episodes of apnea (lack of breathing) cause frequent night time awakening.Individuals with this disorder often complain of morning headaches, constant fatigue, and moodiness, and can fall asleep almost anywhere. More seriously, they can fall asleep even while driving. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common in obese individuals. It is believed that the airway of obese individuals get obstructed by large tonsils, an enlarged tongue and increased fat in the neck. This presses airways when the pharyngeal (throat) muscles are relaxed during sleep. A person's neck circumference is a good predictor of sleep apnea. Obese men with a neck circumference of 17 inches or greater, and women with a neck circumference of 16 inches or greater are more likely to have sleep apnea.The worst part is that it is not only obesity that has an association with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea even results in poor sleep which increases food cravings. Lack of good quality sleep increases the chances of hormonal imbalance by increasing the level of ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hormone known for its effects on appetite and disturbed levels of ghrelin hormone leads to an increased appetite which further leads to weight gain.Individuals with sleep apnea often have elevated blood pressure, high fasting glucose, and high cholesterol. Lack of sleep triggers stress hormones which stimulate the cell’s glycogen to get converted into glucose. This suppresses the function of insulin due to which blood sugar levels shoot up leading to diabetes and heart problems, all of which can worsen with further sleep deprivation. So, it's a vicious cycle. Obesity can lead to sleep apnea, which, itself, then causes derangements of hormones that control eating habits, leading to more weight gain, worsened blood pressure, glucose intolerance, worsened apnea and the cycle goes on and on.So, healthy eating with exercise leads to weight loss and not only helps in preventing such a vicious cycle of health problems but also helps in the cure of sleep apnea.

5 Dangers of Not Sleeping Enough

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Lack of sleep affects every physiologic function of the body. You already know that lack of sleep can make you irritable throughout the day. What you may not know is what it can do to your memory, health, physical appearance and even your ability to lose weight. Here are 5 dangers of not sleeping enough:1. Sleep Loss makes you DumbLack of sleep may affect the brain development by decreasing cognitive processes like thinking and learning. This makes it more difficult to learn or think efficiently, technically making you dumber.2. Sleep Loss causes DepressionInsomnia has been linked to depression. Sleep loss contributes to cause depression. It may make you lethargic, irritable and stressful throughout your day.3. Sleep Loss ages your skinLosing sleep causes lackluster skin, fine lines and dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, the body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol which may breakdown the skin collagen that keeps the skin smooth and elastic. Sleep loss also causes the body to release less human growth hormone.4. Sleep Deprivation can lead to serious Health problemThe clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders may lead you to numerous serious medical illnesses for e.g. heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.5. Sleep Lose can make you gain weightLack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. Losing sleep decreases Leptin levels and elevates Ghrelin levels, which stimulates hunger. It not only stimulates your appetite but also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.You should hit the snap for at least 7-8 hours every night.

Can Exercise Help You Sleep Better?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Many people even after sleeping for 8 hours feel sleepy and tired by mid-day. This can happen because of low quality sleep. Do you also feel the same way during the day? It might be the time to examine your lifestyle habits in terms of food and exercise. Did you know that including exercise in your daily routine can help you in getting better quality sleep. Let’s see how this actually works.According to a poll in 2013 by the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S, people who worked out or exercised regularly seemed to have better quality sleep than people who did not do any physical activity even though they said they slept well every night. If you are inactive then even starting with adding a 10 minute walk initially every day could improve your likelihood of better quality sleep. In fact, it was also found in the poll that non exercisers are at a higher risk of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep. Its symptoms often include tiredness, snoring, and high blood pressure. It also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.Not having enough sleep or lack of good quality sleep can also lead to weight gain. When you do not exercise it leads to poorer sleep which in turn makes you lethargic for the whole day and keeps your energy levels low. Therefore, not exercising and low quality sleep becomes a vicious cycle. In fact lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep will make you crave for comfort food like potato chips, ice cream, etc which in the long run will make you gain weight and attract lifestyle diseases. The major drawback of this vicious cycle is you start drinking more of tea/coffee to keep yourself going for daily activities. This adds more caffeine and sugar in your daily diet which if consumed in high quantity can affect your health adversely.To have good quality sleep, try to inculcate the following in your routine:1. Include a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity in your daily routine. If you are a beginner than start with light exercises like walking or running or you can even include some other physical activities like kickboxing. But, don’t exercise at the expense of your sleep.2. Keep the environment of your bedroom calm and quiet with a comfortable mattress and pillow because this will help further relax your body and might help in improving sleep quality.3. Before going to bed relax yourself and try some meditation or deep breathing. Switch off the television or laptop at least 1 hour before going to bed or you can include some relaxing rituals like a warm bath or listening to calming music.4. Make a routine of going to bed and waking up at a same time daily. Stop spending extra time in your bed when you are already awake.5. Don’t keep your desktop, work files or TV in your bedroom.Include the above to improve sleep quality but if you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or "stop breathing" episodes in your sleep, you must get in touch with a physician for a sleep apnea screening.

Dont' Lose Sleep Over Type 2 Diabetes

Dr. Nishant Singh, General Physician
The famed American activist and author Michael Pollan termed obesity as an epidemic.With close to 400 million people having diabetes in the world, are we not losing this battle?Closer home, it is estimated that India has 67 million diabetic patients. Add to it, another 30 million in the pre-diabetes group (blood sugar level is higher than normal, but still not as high to be classified as Type 2 Diabetes), we are staring at a dark future. If media reports are to be believed, India will overtake China and become the diabetes Capital of the world by 2030.You can still go on with your lifeA diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes brings in a wave of panic. What to do and what not to do and what to eat and still worse, what not to eat – the list of instructions handed over by our well-wishers seem to be a long one. General Physicians are of the view that a mere diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes should not make you stop enjoying your life.However, doctors give the following set of advice for diabetic patients to lead a healthy life.Walk the pathNothing can beat the benefits of daily physical activity. The fact that you are diabetic should make you more enthusiastic about your daily dose of exercise. Incorporate simple physical activities like walking, swimming, jogging or running in your daily routine.Cut the flab outMost of the Type 2 diabetic patients are obese too. So, it assumes utmost importance that you keep a close check on your body weight. Doctors say that even losing a few kilos work wonders for your body.Savour that bar of chocolateThe old timers may say that a diabetes patient should stay away from sweets and chocolates. However, this is not true. The key is to eat in moderation which applies to non-diabetic patients as well. A diabetic patient should concentrate more on eating healthy and nutritious food.Here are few things a Type 2 Diabetes patient should keep in mind regarding healthy eating:Evenly space your meals in a dayNever ever skip your breakfast (Foregoing breakfast can increase blood glucose levels)Have more of whole grains, fruits and non-fat dairy foodsDon’t overeat.Do pop-in those pillsIf you are diabetic, never neglect your medication, irrespective of whether they are insulin injections or oral medications. And remember, medicines will have to be supported by your lifestyle changes too, like adequate exercise and healthy eating habits.Observe itDoctors advise diabetic patients to monitor their blood glucose level at regular intervals. When to do it and how frequently should it be done depends on your previous blood glucose readings and your general health. Usually, the blood glucose levels are checked before you have a meal or a couple of hours after you have had a full meal.Do check with your physician as to how frequently your blood glucose readings have to be taken and do follow it without fail. In case, you see abnormal readings, do not hesitate to seek professional help.Kick the buttSmoking increases blood sugar levels and leads to insulin resistance, things a diabetic patient should be wary of. Doctors say that individuals who gave up smoking have been found to have increased insulin sensitivity.Do you smoke? If so, cut down on your smoking and still better, give it up.My diabetes is such a central part of my life. It did teach me discipline, it also taught me about moderation. I’ve trained myself to be super vigilant, because I feel better when I am in control – Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.Take control of your life and in turn, stop diabetes in its track. 

The Most Common Reasons for Weight Gain

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Its frustrating to see your weight going up when you’re doing everything possible to lose weight. You seem to be eating right and exercising, but that clearly isn’t working. Losing weight and staying fit is mostly dependant on a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, but there are a lot of other factors that could slowly be disrupting your weight loss goals:1. Lack of sleepIf you are not getting enough sleep, then that could be making you feel hungrier. Lack of sleep causes an increase in stress in your body which leads to secretion of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin and makes you feel hungrier.2. Distracted eatingSometimes we eat mindlessly and don't even realise we're doing it. You may be watching TV with your hand constantly dipping into a bag of popcorn before soon realising that it's all gone. Even when you eat your meal while you are working on your computer, it leads to mindless eating. You don't savour the food and end up overeating.3. StressStress eating is a form of emotional eating which leads to high levels of cortisol hormone released in the body in response to stress. This hormone triggers psychological cravings for salty, sweet and high fat content food that gives you instant energy and pleasure. More stress makes you more prone to emotional eating.4. Watch what you drinkWhen people are watching their diet, they generally tend to forgot about accounting for their drinking habits. Alcohol, fuzzy drinks and juices can be high in calories. Also, alcohol consumption if often the reason for indulging in unhealthy food. It lowers your defences and willpower so you are more likely to indulge.5. MenopauseWeight gain can be a by-product of menopause. It’s possible that as estrogens levels fall, the metabolic rate in women also falls. It may also be the case that as women reach a certain age they become less physically active and put on weight because of it.6. MedicationA common side effect of some prescription medicines is weight gain. Because some of the drugs contain corticosteroids and anti-psychotic drugs, certain drugs can cause fluid retention which leads to weight gain. If you suspect your medication is affecting your waistline, your doctor may be able to find an alternative treatment that won’t have that particular side effect.7. AgeingAgeing is a condition which is unavoidable. During this stage BMR slows down. So you need more exercise and less food — to keep your metabolism going.8. Poor digestionPoor digestion leads to insufficient absorption of B-vitamins, iron, magnesium or any of the other nutrients required to burn calories. This results in fatigue and deposition of excess body fat. When you are unable to eliminate waste properly due to poor digestion, your body will suffer from toxic build-up. Many toxins cause your body to retain body fat and excess water. This results in sluggishness, puffiness and difficulty in losing weight.So keep a check on the above mentioned points and keep weight gain away.

Good Sleep for Good Health

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Nothing makes you feel more refreshed than a good sleep in night. It is a natural cyclic state of resting for mind and body. There’s more to an ideal 7-8 hrs of sleep than just preparing our bodies for the next day. Adequate sleep is an essential part of good health and plays an important role in all body functions hence ensuring a better mental and physical fitness.The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reported that good sleep is essential for a person’s health and well being.Lord Chesterfield very well said that “A light supper, a good night's sleep and a fine morning have often made a hero out of the same man, who, by indigestion, a restless night and a rainy morning would have proved a coward."Now, the question is “Can good sleep make good health?”Yes, sleep makes you feel better. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Without it, one becomes more susceptible to health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, depression and many more. Some facts of sleep which lead to a healthy life are -Good Sleep Keeps Heart Healthy: Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol so some experts say that heart will be healthier if one gets between( 7 -9 hours) of sleep each night.Sleep Helps to Make Body Repairs: Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage. This is the time when the cells undergo wear and tear and that’s what makes you feel refreshed in the morning.Good Sleep Reduces Stress: When your body is sleeping deficient, it goes into a state of stress. Therefore it is recommended to have good sleep in order to allow your body to cope with day’s stress and manage it in a better way with a relaxed mind. It is found that any amount of sleep deprivation reduces mental performance.Sleep & Weight Loss: Lack of sufficient sleep affects the appetite regulating hormones. It also aggravates cravings for high-fat and carbohydrate rich foods, making a route to weight gain. It also affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, a key factor in weight management. So, if you want to be on a healthy weight, make sure you get a good sleep every night.Good Sleep Reduces Depression: Lack of proper sleep and depression is inter-linked. Depression may lead to insomnia and lack of sleep increases depression. Sleep impacts serotonin levels (feel-good hormone) which affect the mood of an individual.Sleep Prevents Cancer: People working for long hours have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. There is evidence stating that good sleep can alter the balance of hormones in the body which may influence cancer progression.As very well said by Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy & wise.”