Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pleasant dreams

Thanks Metro Journalist for your comment about the relationship between lack of sleep and weight gain -- perfect timing since I just read all about it in "Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat" by NBC News Chief Medical Editor Nancy L. Snyderman, MD. If you haven't read this book, I recommend it highly, because it tackles all the old wives' tales, diet truths and diet myths we've been hearing about for years.

According to Dr. Snyderman, weight gain is one of the "disturbing consquences" of lack of sleep, since it disrupts the hormones that control appetite and hunger. The really bad news is that to lose weight, you need to sleep seven to eight hours a night. If you get only six hours, according to some recent studies, you will put on 11 pounds over six years.

So consider those 11 pounds tacked on every six years (about 20 pounds each decade), added to the ones we naturally gain and the ones that are all jelly beans and chocolate cake and you quickly understand why we're all muffin tops and thunder thighs the older we get.

Is there a mother in this world that sleeps six hours a night? Personally, until a few months ago, if I averaged five hours I thought that was terrific. Insomnia ruled my life.

I found yoga, and on the days that I take a class, I sleep like a baby, which is why I've been increasing the number of classes I take weekly. I also bought Dr. Andrew Weil's "Breathing" CD -- and breathe my way into sleep each night. If I do wake up in the middle of the night -- which is quickly becoming a thing of the past -- I breathe my way back to sleep. That's my cure. Here's Dr. Snyderman's:
* Stay away from stimulants: sugar, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bedtime. (Does this mean my glass of wine has to be my morning eye-opener? Kidding!)
* Avoid sitmulation like computer work or exercise for at least three hours before going to bed. (I would have to add that my yoga classes, which I usually take at night, have the exact opposite effect on me.)
* Exercising early in the day can improve your sleep at night.
* Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. (Love this: For Dr. Snyderman, it is reading a medical journal in bed. Yup: That would do it for me.)
* Go to bed at the same time each night.

Easy to write down. So very hard to put into practice. Before I found yoga, I tried bubble baths, meditation, reading, journaling -- a smorgasbord of cure du jours. Thank goodness that buffet has been replaced. Metro Journalist, I hope you find your cure.

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