the obvious fact that this is the season to throw diets out
the window, there could be another reason why we tend to gain
weight over the holidays. This time or year we tend to trade
sleep for all the activities that require our wakefulness.
connection between inadequate sleep and weigh gain goes back
to research that shows a consistent link between a low amount
of sleep and a high amount of body weight. And get this, my
fellow Americans who sleep less than any other industrialized
country: Less than 8 hours a day of sleep increases your
likelihood to be overweight.
(those who specialize in the study and treatment of
hormone-related conditions such as diabetes) say that sleep
plays a major role in the function of body hormones that
control our physical health, including hunger and the
regulation of blood sugars. Studies show that just one night
of staying awake when you should be sleeping can
simultaneously slow down metabolisms (burning of calories for
energy) and increase hunger and blood sugar levels…not
exactly the formula for a fit and trim new year.
is adequate sleep? Many experts define adequate sleep as 7 to
9 hours a night. One study in adults older than 75 years found
that an average of 7.5 hours of sleep per night resulted in
fewer health problems than those who got less sleep.
good. But how do we actually accomplish more and better shut
what experts suggest:
your sleepiness. Say no thanks to caffeinated beverages
(including energy drinks) as bedtime draws near, especially if
you know you are sensitive to the stimulating effects of these
your sleep inducing hormones. Dim the Christmas lights and
record the late-night running of "It’s a Wonderful
Life" to watch another time. Less exposure to light as
the night closes in stimulates the production of melatonin,
the sleepy time hormone.
bedtime approaches, forego the spiked eggnog for a nice cup of
chamomile tea. Less fat and alcohol are more inviting to a
sound night’s sleep. And although research is lacking on
chamomile’s effectiveness to induce sleep, at least one
study has shown it may be helpful to reduce anxiety symptoms
in some people, according to the National Institutes of
Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative
Health (NIH, NCCIH).
your brain. Get some exercise. Take some deep breaths as you
pray and meditate on the season before you. Then put any
anxious thoughts on the shelf and — in the words of Scarlett
O’Hara, "think about that tomorrow."
we do all these things and we still can’t get restful sleep.
That, my friends, calls for a consult to your local sleep
expert doctor for evaluation. It’s worth it.