Common Questions About Sleep
Does lack of sleep contribute to weight gain?
Yes, your lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain. When you don’t get enough sleep, it affects your metabolism (the ability to burn calories) and energy. It elevates your heart rate and blood pressure and dumps sugar into your bloodstream in an effort to keep your body going to handle the stress you experience during awake hours. This requires insulin.
After a sustained lack of sleep, cortisol levels and insulin levels may rise, which contribute to higher fat storage rather than fatty acids being released by your body to use as fuel.
Leptin, which regulates your appetite, may also decrease after a lack of sleep. This means you can’t shut off your appetite. Have you ever craved a sweet snack in the middle of the night? It may be low leptin levels at work, not actual hunger.
I try to fall asleep, but my mind can’t turn off. What can I do?
It’s difficult to immediately switch from a waking state to a state of rest. Your body needs a transition period to signal to the mind that you are disconnecting and about to enter a state of sleep. Powering down electronics, turning off your phone, switching from television to a book and dimming the lights all prepare your body for a quiet transition time. You can lower the temperature of the room, do some stretches to release tension, or take a shower or bath before bed, which release calm-inducing negative ions.
Once you’re in bed, a few simple deep breathing exercises or meditation can help your mind release stress from the day and let go of thoughts. Don’t think about the past or future, just be in the present moment, connecting with your body and allowing yourself to sink into a deeper, restful state.
I sleep for eight hours, but I don’t feel rested. Why?
Your body requires two kinds of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. These are essential to building and rebalancing your body before the next day. While you sleep, you go through several cycles of REM and non-REM. If there is a factor affecting your ability to achieve deep, non-REM sleep, you could feel tired the next day even if you got a “full night’s sleep.”
There are many factors that can inhibit your ability to achieve both kinds of sleep. Check out our resources for more information.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is one of several sleep disorders that is considered a medical condition and can be diagnosed and treated. A sleep disorder, as opposed to sleep insufficiency syndrome, is the inability to get into deep sleep in a timely fashion or cycle through restorative sleep.
Insomnia and similar sleep disorders can be caused by a variety of issues: obstructive sleep apnea, the side effect of a certain medication, depression, neurochemical imbalance, pain disorder, or something else. If you have a medical condition that is affecting your sleep, we recommend you consider seeing a clinician for a full evaluation in order to diagnose and treat the problem.