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I'm a 54 year old Husband, Father of Four Daughters, Pastor and Vice Principal of a private K-12 school on Long Island.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Imprtance of Sleep and Weight Management

My wife and I were watching 60 minutes on CBS last night and they had a very interesting show on the effects of sleep deprivation. While anyone who has been awake, or had severely disturbed sleep, for over 48 hours knows first hand that there are some physical and mental changes that take place, the show had some interesting studies regarding the actual physiology involved when our body is deprived of deep restful sleep for prolonged periods of time.

Most interesting to me was the effect that sleep deprivation has on our weight! Here is an excerpt of an article found at http://www.sleep-deprivation.com/ :

Leptin and Grehlin are hormones that help the body control appetite and weight gain and loss. Leptin suppresses appetite, while Grehlin increases appetite and may prevent a person from losing weight.When lack of sleep becomes a chronic problem, levels of Grehlin increases, causing greater appetite, and levels of Leptin decrease. Regardless of diet and exercise, it's possible that some obesity is caused, or made worse, by sleep deprivation.

If you are experiencing problems sleeping and think your sleeping disorders might be causing you to gain weight, you should consider visiting a doctor, who can discuss ways to help restore your normal sleeping pattern. You may even want to consult a sleep lab for evaluation. There, you will spend the night hooked up to electrodes, which will monitor your brain activity during sleep. The process is painless and may be covered by your insurance.

Regular exercise will improve your quality of sleep, as will reducing or eliminating you intake of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.If enlarged tonsils are obstructing your airway and causing sleep apnea, the doctor might want to surgically remove the organs. He or she also may prescribe sleep medications to help you sleep through the night. While some newer sleep medications may be used for long-term sleep problems, it's important for you and your doctor to weigh their risks and benefits. Remember to ask your doctor about Melatonin! Getting your sleep problems diagnosed and treated may be the first step in accomplishing your weight loss goals. If you've tried everything to lose weight and nothing seems to be working, don't give up. Lack of sleep may be keeping you from achieving weight loss success.

Another area of great concern to my wife and I was the relationship between sleep deprivation and Type II Diabetes. Here's an article I found at http://www.sciencedaily.com/ :

Science Daily (Jan. 2, 2008) — Suppression of slow-wave sleep in healthy young adults significantly decreases their ability to regulate blood-sugar levels and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, report researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The researchers studied nine lean, healthy volunteers, five men and four women between the ages of 20 and 31. The subjects spent two consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory, where they went to bed at 11 P.M., slept undisturbed but carefully monitored, and got out of bed 8.5 hours later, at 7:30 A.M.

The same subjects were also studied for three consecutive nights during which they followed identical nighttime routines. During this session, however, when their brain waves indicated that they were drifting into slow-wave sleep they were subtly disturbed by sounds administered through speakers beside the bed.

These sounds were loud enough to disrupt deep sleep but not so loud as to cause a full awakening. This technique enabled the researchers to decrease slow-wave sleep by about 90 percent, shifting the subjects from the onset of deep sleep (stage 3 or 4) to a lighter sleep (stage 2) without altering total sleep time.

"Our system proved quite effective," Tasali said. When asked about the sounds the next morning, study subjects vaguely recalled hearing a noise "three or four times," during the night. Some recalled as many as 10 to 15. On average, however, subjects required about 250-300 interventions each night, fewer the first night but more on subsequent nights as "slow-wave pressure," the body's need for deep sleep, accumulated night after night.

"This decrease in slow-wave sleep resembles the changes in sleep patterns caused by 40 years of aging," Tasali said. Young adults spend 80 to 100 minutes per night in slow-wave sleep, while people over age 60 generally have less than 20 minutes. "In this experiment," she said, "we gave people in their 20s the sleep of those in their 60s."

At the end of each study, the researchers gave intravenous glucose (a sugar solution) to each subject, then took blood samples every few minutes to measure the levels of glucose and insulin, the hormone that controls glucose uptake.

They found that when slow-wave sleep was suppressed for only three nights, young healthy subjects became about 25 percent less sensitive to insulin. As insulin sensitivity decreased, subjects needed more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose. But for eight of the nine subjects, insulin secretion did not go up to compensate for reduced effects. The result was a 23 percent increase in blood-glucose levels, comparable to older adults with impaired glucose tolerance.

Those with low baseline levels of slow-wave sleep had the lowest levels after having their sleep patterns disrupted and the greatest decrease in insulin sensitivity.

The alarming rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is generally attributed to the epidemic of obesity combined with the aging of the population. "Previous studies from our lab have demonstrated many connections between chronic, partial, sleep deprivation, changes in appetite, metabolic abnormalities, obesity, and diabetes risk," said Van Cauter. "These results solidify those links and add a new wrinkle, the role of poor sleep quality, which is also associated with aging."

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