Weight Loss Resolutions Should Involve More Sleep

If like many Americans you have resolved to lose weight in the New Year, you might also want to consider getting a better night’s sleep.

The number of academic studies linking lack of proper sleep to weight gain is growing. This past year the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) urged leading health organizations to include sleep in their reports as one of the behaviors that directly affect health. The NSF rationale comes from a “considerable body of converging evidence that clearly shows reduced sleep is a risk factor for obesity.”

Studies of adults have identified how sleep deprivation can negatively affect metabolism and hormone function.

“Lack of sleep impacts how well adults metabolize calories and can alter the level of hormones such as leptin and serotonin which increases the hunger sensation,” said David Quimby, M.D., of the Spectrum Health Sleep Disorders Center and Michigan Medical, P.C.

A recent Nurses Health Study looked at more than 68,000 middle age women who were asked to report back on their sleep habits and weight every two years for 16 years. The study found that women who slept for only five hours per night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain (over 33 pounds) and 15 percent more likely to become obese compared with women who slept at least seven hours a night. The study showed that even women who managed an average of six hours of sleep at night were more likely (12 percent) to gain weight than those who got in seven hours of sleep.

Most healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, said Dr. Quimby.

“The quality of sleep is almost as important as the length,” added Quimby. “Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, in a room that is too warm or too cold, or with noise distractions such as the television hinders reaching deep sleep.”

Along with weight concerns, there are other signs that adults are not getting enough quality sleep. Those indicators include:

  • Trouble staying alert during boring or monotonous activities
  • A tendency to be unreasonably irritable with co-workers, family or friends
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering facts

Some sleep problems go beyond simply scheduling enough time to rest. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 74 percent of Americans suffer debilitating sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, that require medical intervention.

The Spectrum Health Sleep Disorders Center is an AASM-accredited sleep medicine facility, serving both adult and pediatric patients. The Center also provides services through Gerber Memorial Hospital, Holland Community Hospital, Mecosta General Hospital, Pennock Health Services, Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital and Spectrum Health United Memorial Hospital.

Prospective patients can call (616) 391-3759 or 1-888-SLEEPLAB (toll-free), or they can be referred by their primary care physician.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 560,000-member health plan, Priority Health.  Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.  The organization provided $98.6 million in community benefit during its 2007 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned more than 50 national awards during the past 10 years.