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Sleep Deprivation and Metabolism

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I read an article on here today (the featured article on the home page) about metabolism mistakes. Most were things I knew, but I saw this statement in the section on focusing on one thing at a time and was struck by it:

DEAN (Behavioral Psychology & Stress Management Expert)
Speaking of sleep, there is a large and growing body of research showing that even mild sleep deprivation has adverse effects on metabolism. There are several pathways involved here, but one of the main mechanisms appears to involve leptin and insulin (hormones associated with appetite). Apparently sleep deprivation generates the same biological state as sustained calorie deprivation: high night-time cortisol levels, which in turn leads to insulin resistance and decreased concentrations of leptin (the appetite-suppressing hormone released by body fat). In effect, your brain starts thinking you're in the middle of a food scarcity situation, and turns your appetite up several notches, and reduces your need for sleep even more so you have more time for foraging.

My daughter was a terrible sleeper for a long time. It's only been in the past couple of months that it's gotten under control (knock on wood!) on a sustained basis. And now I'm super busy at work. I have probably averaged 5-6 hours of sleep a night over the past two years. But I haven't been feeling *tired*, and I generally wake up after 6 or so hours on the weekend. I assumed that meant I just didn't need more sleep (even though I fall asleep on the couch with some regularity). This article suggests otherwise. And may provide some explanation for my desire to forage in the evening.

Apparently I need to be working on getting more sleep. How does one reverse that cycle? As I said, I tend to just wake up now after 5-6 hours, even if no kid is awake and trying to get my attention and even if my alarm isn't blaring. Also, how do I restructure my day to allow more time for sleep? I've been sacrificing sleep for exercise for a few months now, and I'm not sure where else I can make up time -- I don't feel like I waste much.

I've got things to ponder.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You are one of the lucky ones who has learned the fine art of napping. I envy you. :-D Some people, like my DH, can't and won't sleep more than 5-6 hours before the body says, "That's enough! Get up!", and there's no going back to sleep for at least another 12 hours. But you have learned to nap, and that will be one of those advantages you have over me, because although I want 8 hrs, and I can sleep that long, I don't always get 8 hrs. Not everyone is the same, and not everyone needs 8 hours in a row of sleep. If you are able to nap for 15-60 minutes at a time in the evening, you may be getting rest without the REM sleep, and that may be where you can focus your sleep times. I wish I had a better answer; insomnia isn't something I suffer from often.
    2183 days ago
    Yes, it looks like you do. If you're not "wasting" much then where do you get more time. I think television is the new devil. Not only does it waste a lot of our time but we're usually eating while watching which makes it a double whammy. See if you can reduce the amount of time watching and get more time for sleeping. And I'm no hypocrite: planning on shutting down my cable service for the summer months (July & August). There's much to be done and tv can wait. emoticon
    2183 days ago
    Instead of waking up earlier than I want to, my trouble is getting to sleep. My body is tired but my brain just keeps churning on. I have been trying all the tricks and some nights I'm successful and some nights I'm staring at the ceiling all night. I don't know what the answer is, but I feel your angst.

    emoticon Carol
    2183 days ago
    Sleep definitely makes a big difference. I went through that huge 8-month plateau, and it started around the same time I started having major insomnia. The insomnia lasted for 5 full months, the plateau kept going another three months after I got it under control. So yeah, it really can mess you up!
    2184 days ago
    Good luck. I agree you might just need to try and go to bed a little earlier and see how you do with your sleeping. I know that I need 8 hours, but my goal is for 7 hours a night. During the summer I do better at getting those 7 since I don't have to get up as early. I hope you get it figured out, but I am sure you will.
    2184 days ago
    I don't know about restructuring your day but I was having trouble going to sleep and staying asleep so I asked my Dr. what to do. She suggested I take Melatonin 1/2 hour before bedtime. It's a natural supplement you can but otc they even put it with the vitamins in the store. It helps and I don't feel groggy when I get up. Good luck!
    2184 days ago
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