Wellness Pathway #281 Sleep Yourself Thin

Two things are true in America and in much of the developed world: people are increasingly sleep deprived and people are increasingly overweight. Could the two be connected? Research supports that theory and provides an explanation as to how the connection works.

In two separate studies, individuals who slept less an average of 5 hours or less per night produced 15 percent less of an appetite-suppressing hormone as well as 15 percent more an an appetite-stimulating hormone. And what foods did the sleep-deprived subjects crave most? You guessed it. They were quick to reach for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate choices.

So if you’ve been battling the bulge, the problem may not just be in your eating habits. The problem may also be in your sleep habits, which are setting you up for overeating and overweight.

Plan to get more than 6 hours and less than 9 hours of sleep each and every night. A nap in the afternoon can also be a good idea. That’s part of the beauty of being human. We can make choices! Unfortunately, too many of us choose to be sleep deprived (and we are the only known organism to do that). Beyond poor nutrition and weight gain, sleep-deprivation leads to myriad other problems. As one researcher reports, “You’re phenomenally stupid when you’re sleep deprives, and you’re too stupid to realize it.”

If getting more and better sleep is at the top of your list for 2006, you may want to adopt one or more of the following coaching tips:

  • Set aside a worry time at the start of the day. Don’t start fretting when it’s time to go to sleep.
  • Go to sleep when you know you can go to sleep quickly (even if that’s 2:00 AM). Once you are in a rhythm, start going to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Once that works consistently, make it 15 minutes earlier than that. Keep going until you are getting 6-9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Do something until you feel tired and then lie back down.
  • Establish a pre-bedtime ritual. Insomniacs may require as much as 2 hours to wind down and be ready for sleep. I had one client who developed a different ritual for every room in her house, ending in the bedroom. It worked!
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and heavy meals within three hours of bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly and wisely. A regular exercise routine promotes regular sleep; exercising too vigorously right before bedtime, however, can delay the onset of drowsiness and sleep.
  • Restrict the bedroom to sleep and sex. Avoid getting in the habit of taking work and watching television in bed.
  • Keep the bedroom dark, quiet, and comfortably cool. Eye shades may help when there is a lot of daylight and if you cannot darken the room.
  • Go to sleep at about the same time every day. Shift workers should plan on sleeping the same length of time every day, with a day-evening-night sequence.

Remember: there’s no way to catch up on lost sleep. When it comes to sleep, there is definitely a use-it or lose-it rule. Lost sleep more often leads to insomnia and additional lost sleep. If it takes more than a month to get yourself on a healthy sleep schedule, you should see a sleep-disorder specialist. It’s that important and you truly have much to gain.

Coaching Inquiries: How much sleep do you average each and every night? Do you sense a connection between sleep deprivation and over eating? How could your sleep patterns become more regular and restful? What plans can you make that you could implement today?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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