Could Sleep Quality Be The Reason For Weight Gain?

posted: February 05, 2019

For many people who make new year’s resolutions, it is about now – early February – when the rubber meets the road, so to speak. For many who had good intentions on January 1, it is at this point, about 6 weeks in, when the odds seem more and more against them with many throwing up their hands.

One study found that most New Year’s resolutions don’t even make it through January. After analyzing more than 31.5 million online responses, Strava, a social network for athletes, most people fail in their resolutions before the third week of January, according to an article published by the New York Post. (https://nypost.com/2018/12/21/new-years-resolutions-last-exactly-this-long/)

If you’re one who has stumbled on a New Year’s resolution, you’re in good company. It is estimated that 40 percent of American adults make new year’s resolutions with only 8 percent actually achieving their goals (according to 2013 research at the University of Scranton (read article published by Boston University: http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/about-those-new-years-resolutions/).

For people who resolved to lose weight when the new year began, this is probably no surprise. As a matter of fact, losing weight and exercising more are among the most common of all resolutions. Although many “fall off the wagon” with calorie counts and sugar limitations, an unknown obstacle may actually be a major player in the inability to lose weight.

Hunger controls, it has been found, don’t occur in the stomach; they are regulated by the brain. Research has shown that the quality of sleep can effect weight to a significant level.

The brain is actually very active during sleep. During REM sleep, the brain goes through a process of housekeeping. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep occurs about 90 minutes into sleep. It is the deep stage of sleep, which is when dreaming occurs. (You may want to learn more about the different stages of sleep at: https://www.sleep.org/articles/what-happens-during-sleep/)

In this “housekeeping” period, toxins and other interferences that have accumulated throughout the day are removed and the brain resets hormonal levels. These hormones include those that activate hunger cravings as well as the ones that signal satiety, which is the sensation of feeling full.

Sufficient oxygen levels during sleep keeps the brain operating efficiently. Thus, the brain is able to properly set these hunger/full hormones for the coming day. When you get a full night of sleep, the brain isn’t urging you to eat more when you really don’t need it.

In addition to daytime fatigue, nodding off easily, feeling less alert, and lacking energy, common symptoms of Sleep Apnea incllude food cravings, especially carbohydrates. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

After consuming sweets and carbohydrates, we get a temporary boost of energy. Since the brain knows these foods will rev the body up to keep you going, the brain craves this quick fix for the drag of sleep deprivation. The result of night after night of getting insuffcient sleep coupled wth the brain’s way to re-energize itself, the result is going to be weight gain.

Thus, those who are trying to lose weight under these conditions are fighting an uphill battle. Add to this the fact that sleep loss depletes the motivation and energy to be active, making it challenging to stay active. And, more apt to getting fat.

But, it gets even worse.

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that causes people to pause their breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times per night and up to a minute per time. When the brain is deprived of sufficient oxygen intake during sleep, it can pose an enormous health risk along with an adjustment in hunger regulators.

In addition to fatigue, sleepiness, feeling foggy and carb cravings, Sleep Apnea has been linked to a number of serious health problems. These include heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and impotency.

The number of obese Americans (those who are beyond fat) is at a whopping 35 percent, more than a third of the population. Yet, in spite of numerous weight loss products, there is often a cycle of one-step-forward-two-steps-back for adults struggling to lose weight who are sleep apnea sufferers.

If you suspect you have Sleep Apnea or are experiencing symptoms associated with the disorder, it is important to know that C-PAP is not your only recourse (for mild to moderate sleep apnea). The CPAP consists of mask attached to a fan that forces air down the throat during sleep. The device is often not worn by many who are prescribed with it, with complaints including it being noisy, cumbersome, and creating claustrophobic feelings.

In our Summerville dental office, we offer custom-made oral appliances to help people with mild to moderate sleep apnea (and/or who are heavy snorers) avoid the frustrations of having to wear a C-PAP device. These devices are small, comfortable, and don’t interfere with sleep. They are also affordable.

Begin by calling 843-871-6351 or tap here for a no-charge consultation to discuss your symptoms and the potential for success, and restored sleep. I’ll be happy to answer your questions so you can determine how you wish to proceed.