PATRICK ANDERSON: Counting sheep for a healthy weight

Print Article

PAID CONTENT

By PATRICK ANDERSON

University of Idaho Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Sleep is candy. I used to live by this phrase. I knew that even without sleep, I could still get things done. What I didn’t know is that sleep is helpful in more ways than one. We all know that getting good night’s rest will make us feel better the next day, but not many of us know that sleep can affect our weight.

Evidence shows that reduced sleep can confuse our body’s hunger/fullness signals. In simple terms, you can think of it like this: with a lack of sleep, Ghrelin the Hunger Gremlin comes out in force, encouraging you to eat more than your body needs. Ghrelin is like that voice that quietly tells you that you still have room to finish a bag of popcorn. In an everyday healthy life, ghrelin is an innocent hormone that is simply supposed to help you recognize when you are hungry. With less sleep however, you produce too much ghrelin and feel hungry more often, or for longer. With this, you can help prevent overeating simply by going to bed on time and reducing the release of ghrelin.

In today’s world, getting the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours for adults), can be especially troublesome. The fast paced, stressful environment we live in creates problems that can keep us up at night. Many of the foods we may be driven to snack on are high in fat and sugar, and therefore high in calories, which can lead to weight gain.

So why count sheep? Counting sheep is done best in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment.

This environment is also one in which your body can release hormones that make you feel like sleeping. Counting sheep (or any other non-stressful technique) can help distract you from other things that may be going on in life. According to the American Sleep Association, some general recommendations to help you fall asleep are making a bedtime ritual, where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, calming yourself before bed (aka counting sheep), avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine around bedtime, and to avoid watching TV or reading in bed.

In the end, what you are trying to do is train your body to recognize that bedtime is approaching, and that lying in bed means it’s time to sleep. By doing these things, you can count sheep for a good night’s rest, which will quiet down our friend (or foe) ghrelin, and enable us to move onto a healthier life.

American Sleep Association. (2017). How to Fall Asleep. Retrieved from American Sleep Association: https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep/how-to-fall-asleep/

Golem, D. L., Martin-Biggers, J. T., Koenings, M. M., Davis, K. F., & Byrd-Bredbenner, C. (2014). An integrative review of sleep for nutrition professionals. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 5(6), 742-759.

• • •

Patrick Anderson is a student in the University of Idaho Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

Print Article

Read More Healthy Community

GEORGE BALLING: With most sincere thanks

November 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Coeur d'Alene Press PAID CONTENT Our shop, the dinner party, has been open now for nearly 10 years, actually next month on Dec. 17 is the big anniversary. Since Mary and I moved to the area, for her it was moving hom...

Comments

Read More

HOLLY CARLING: The sugar path

November 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Coeur d'Alene Press PAID CONTENT Whenever we hear about blood sugar challenges we think of sugar consumption, cravings and feeling deprived if we are told we cannot keep consuming it. Or, we think of the disease aspe...

Comments

Read More

WAYNE M. FICHTER JR.: Arthritis pain and what chiropractic can do

November 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Coeur d'Alene Press PAID CONTENT According to the Centers for disease Control, just in the United States alone, 23 percent of all adults, or over 54 million people, have some form of arthritis. The term arthritis ref...

Comments

Read More

DR. DONALD JOHNSON: Sleep problems: They kill your sex life and can lead to divorce

November 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Coeur d'Alene Press PAID CONTENT Sleeping — the most important part of your 24-hour day. It helps restore and maintain our body’s systems — immune, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems. It also helps to maintain ment...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X