New Year’s Resolutions
The Key to Losing Weight Might be More Sleep
Each year, as the holidays wind down along with the endless stream of cookies, candies, pies and other sugary and fattening foods, many of us find ourselves resolving that this coming year will be the year in which we finally get control of our weight. In truth, the excess of the holidays is often followed by a string of New Year’s resolutions meant to improve our health and overall well-being. However, according to U.S. News, about 80% of these resolutions fail by mid-February, so the odds are not on our sides. There is a number of reasons we often fail in these endeavors. We may set unrealistic fitness and weight loss goals, such as running a marathon in March when we’ve never run before or losing ten pounds in two weeks. In addition, we may fail to understand the factors contributing to a weight problem. One factor that is often overlooked: sleep.
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight. When our bodies get adequate rest, our hormones are more likely to be balanced, we have more energy to exercise, and we are more likely to make better decisions about what we eat. According to an article from TIME Health, getting a good night’s sleep can also reduce cravings for unhealthy food, help us feel fuller, longer, and lead to better calorie burn throughout the day. Conversely, failing to get proper rest can lead to weight gain and obesity.
The answer seems simple: get more sleep, and it will be easier to lose weight. However, for many people, especially those dealing with a sleep disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), getting a good night’s sleep is not as simple as turning off the lights an hour earlier. For people with OSA, even if they go to sleep for the “right” number of hours, their bodies still might not be getting enough rest. OSA occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep due to obstruction of the airway, which takes place when the tongue and muscles relax during sleep, the lower jaw falls back toward the throat or the airway becomes blocked. People with untreated sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times a night without realizing it. Sleep is generally interrupted and fitful; understandably, those suffering from OSA frequently experience insomnia, fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches and weight gain.
While the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) notes that treating OSA is not a guarantee of weight loss, sleep apnea can make it harder for our bodies to lose weight because it often leads to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and high blood pressure. As such, treatment can help reduce these hormone fluctuations and lead to a better night’s sleep, which in turn can give you more energy and self-control with food choices. Treating underlying sleep problems along with making other small, incremental changes to your lifestyle will give you much more success than an overly ambitious New Year’s resolution.
If you’re concerned you might have sleep apnea, consider having a sleep study performed by a board-certified sleep medicine physician. A sleep study will determine whether or not you have OSA and, if so, what the severity is. Thankfully, sleep apnea is treatable. At the Koala Center for Sleep Disorders we treat OSA with a comfortable oral appliance, similar to a mouthguard. These appliances are a comfortable alternative to CPAP and are covered by most medical insurances and Medicare.
For more information contact the Koala Center for Sleep Disorders. We provide treatment for Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) with a comfortable oral appliance.