Then the sleeping challenge began we learned we’d be scored on a points system. You receive one point for getting 7 hours of sleep at night. Two points if you get 8 hours or more. My first reaction was frustration. I was always up until 11 p.m. or later. It’s just what I had become. I do a lot of things around the house, check emails, have downtime, catch up on the DVR when the kids are sleeping.
Then I read that we would receive one point for going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Notice I didn’t say Monday through Friday. EVERY NIGHT! WHAT!!! You mean to tell me I have to not only get at least 7 hours of sleep, I have to go to bed at the same time on Friday and Saturday night too? Oh I was not a happy girl. I went a few rounds via email with Dr. Oexman, the sleep doctor who helped design the challenge after having a phone consultation with us. “Do people really go to bed and wake up at the same time of day even on weekends?” I asked. Of course the answer is yes. And of course I wasn’t happy because it wasn’t what I wanted. But we’re all giving this a shot. We want to win the challenge and we want to be healthier. Wish us luck!
How many hours of sleep do you usually get at night? And do you think you could give up sleeping late on the weekend? Leave a comment and let me know!
If you want to slim down, go to sleep. Really. That’s according to several studies that show how getting forty winks affects our hormones. When you’re sleep deprived, levels of ghrelin, a hormone that boosts your appetite, go up. And levels of leptin, a hormone that tells your body it’s full, go down. These two actions drive you to overeat. And you know what happens when you overeat.
Lack of sleep also leaves you tired throughout the day. To boost your energy level you may turn to calorie-dense, high-sugar foods and caffeine (e.g. donuts and coffee), which give you a shot of energy—followed by another energy slump. These energy highs and lows keep you snacking throughout the day to stay awake—a habit that can pack on the pounds over time. And the more hours you’re awake, the more likely you are to snack.
So how much sleep do you need? Although you always hear that you should get 8 hours of sleep a night, this is just an average. Sleep experts recommend a range of 7-9 hours a night. The quality of sleep also matters. Research has shown that people who have sleep apnea have higher levels of leptin and weigh more. The disrupted breathing prevents the deep sleep needed to keep leptin levels from rising.
So if you’re hungry and tired all day and can’t seem to drop those extra pounds, try getting more zzz’s and/or seeing your doctor to identify possible sleep problems. And encourage your kids to sleep more too. Healthy sleep habits develop in childhood.
Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.
As a wife, mom and doctor, I’ve accomplished a great deal in my life. But I have to admit that I think we’re going to lose the next challenge because it’s all about sleep. Still, we will try our best to make some changes.
After having a phone consultation with Dr. Robert Oexman, a sleep expert who also reviewed sleep data from our Fitbit activity trackers, we got a list of new sleep behaviors to try. Every time we do a positive one, we get at least a point. Every time we do a negative one, we lose at least a point. For example, you get one point if you: sleep 7 hours; walk 10,000 steps (after all, exercise can give you a good night’s rest) or keep your cell phone out of the bedroom or don’t fall asleep on the couch.
You get two points if you: Sleep for 8 hours or stop video games for 30 minutes before bedtime.
You lose one point for every cup of coffee or tea you have after 5 pm. You get the picture.
On average, we all get between 6 and 7 hours of sleep. I work about 50 hours a week, and one weekend a month. Sleeping may be a priority to the Sleep Doctor, but I truly doubt we can add more rest into our daily routine; unless I am willing to give up housekeeping, cooking, and spending time with my family. Stay tuned and see.
Do you think you could squeeze more rest into your day? Post a comment and tell me.
Will the Lehmans win two challenges in a row? Or will the Avaglianos fare better this time? Check in each day for Tiffany and Peggy‘s updates, as well as advice from their nutritionists Stephanie and Elizabeth.