21 January 2011
Health Corner
Sleeping to keep off the weight

By 1st Lt. Kortnie Killough, RD, LD

Nutrition Care Directorate

Recalling their past military training and current duties, the class scoffed at me when I suggested they try to get around eight hours of sleep to promote weight loss and weight maintenance.

"This is the military, sweetheart. There's no time for sleep."

The demands of a fast-paced society cause any American to see sleep as the first luxury to be sacrificed.

Research indicates chronic sleep loss may be associated with weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes.

The sleep requirements of every individual are different, although sleep deprivation is usually less than six hours.

With less than six hours of sleep nightly, hormonal irregularities occur that contribute to insulin resistance, increasing appetite, and decreasing caloric needs which amount to poor weight control. 

Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases with lack of sleep to contribute to elevated blood glucose while promoting muscle loss.

With chronic sleep deprivation, leptin decreases and ghrelin increases resulting in a bigger appetite and a hungrier feeling.

So now you feed your bigger appetite with unnecessary sugary energy drinks, coffee loaded with cream and sugar, and a few snacks to appease your hunger, but also to try to keep you awake.

But with a lack of sleep, your caloric needs may be reduced. Non-exercise activities, such as fidgeting or walking over to a co-workers desk, are reduced.

The hormone that stimulates the release of active thyroid hormones, which control your energy use, is reduced with sleep loss.

Those who are able to successfully keep excess weight off ensure they get adequate sleep, or around eight hours a night.

Sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity and shouldn't be sacrificed with a busy life with multiple demands.

Ensure yourself adequate sleep for a more efficient work-life, and limit sedentary behaviors such as watching TV or sitting in front of a computer, which are the lazy luxuries that, if sacrificed, free up more time than you realize to help sleep off the pounds.

Nutrition appointments are available at the Barquist Army Health Clinic, call (301) 619-7175 for more information.

Posted by PAO

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   - the official newspaper for Fort Detrick.
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