Indianapolis area residents who are struggling with losing weight may find the answer somewhere they never thought to look: Under the covers of their bed.
Dr. Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders, visited the Dr. Oz show on Monday, May 9, and shared information on how sleeping longer can lead to losing more weight.
How sleep affects weight
During the night, the brain moves in and out of several periods of REM sleep. The length of REM sleep increases each time, with the longest occurrence happening in the early morning hours. During REM, the brain burns three times more calories than when it is awake and metabolism speeds up.
People who sleep six hours or less each night miss the longest period of REM sleep, which means they lose the chance to burn up to 150 extra calories. That can lead to a 14-pound difference in weight over the course of one year.
In addition to the calories burned during REM, a lack of sleep increases the amount of cortisol and ghrelin produced by the body, as well as reducing the production of leptin. This combination of imbalanced hormones leads to an increased appetite with less control over how much one eats.
Tips for getting enough sleep for weight loss
Dr. Breus shared three things people can do during their day to help them get better sleep that will aid in weight loss at night.
Morning: Do not use the snooze button. Setting the alarm and using the snooze button cuts off the last cycle of REM sleep. Dr. Breus suggests using the alarm clock in a different way -- set your alarm in the morning for the time you need to get ready and go to bed that night.
Sticking to a schedule of going to bed eight hours before you need to be up the following day allows the body to naturally finish the final REM cycle and wake naturally.
Afternoon: Drink a cup and take a nap. If afternoon drowsiness is a problem, drink a small cup of cold drip coffee all in one shot and take a 20-minute nap. The nap will provide enough Stage 1 and Stage 2 sleep to reduce drowsiness and the caffeine will provide enough energy to get through the next few hours. However, do not do this after 2 p.m., as caffeine too late in the afternoon can keep the body awake or out of deep sleep at night.
Evening: Do not go to bed hungry. While heavy eating should be finished several hours before bed, a light snack of the right foods two hours before bed can lead to falling asleep easier. Dr. Breus suggests a smoothie made from melatonin-rich cherries, magnesium-packed bananas, and soy milk, which is high in tryptophan. Visit the Dr. Oz website for the full recipe and additional tips on sleeping better.
Finding help for sleep problems in Indianapolis
Indianapolis residents who find they still cannot sleep properly or are concerned they have a sleep disorder can find help through both the Indiana University Health and St. Vincent’s Health networks.