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Why is Sleep Important? Medical Minutes Episode 3

Sleep for Weight Loss

Welcome to a Medical Minute. Why is sleep so important for weight loss? That’s a great question. Sleep is an important part of weight loss for many reasons. The two biggest reasons that I talk about are number one, when you aren’t sleeping well, and we’ll call it restorative sleep, when you aren’t getting enough restorative sleep, your metabolism is slower and you’re more hungry.

Medical Studies on Sleep

And so what are the three studies that I always tell people about? Number one in this study, if you slept more than seven hours, you weighed less. And if you slept less than seven hours, you weighed more. And so seven hours over all the studies I’ve looked at seems to be the best number. Eight would probably be better, but in the world that you and I live in, eight hours a night is actually quite hard to get.

The second study had to do with duration of sleep. If you slept just five hours a night, 80% of the people in that study were overweight. Five hours a night or less, eight out of every 10 had trouble with weight.

And the last study is very interesting also. It looked at metabolism. So they had people sleep in a calorimeter, a room that measures metabolism and you had to live there for a week. And first they had you sleep eight and a half hours. And trust me, almost nobody regularly gets eight and a half hours. And the second time you were in there, you slept five and a half hours. So we’re taking eight and a half hours compared to five and a half hours. The metabolism fell by 400 calories a day. Think about that. 400 calories a day, every day, day after day after day.

And so the rule that I talk to people about is very simple, to get at least seven hours of restorative sleep per night. If you have sleep disturbances like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, you should have that treated by a physician who specializes in sleep. If you just have sleep problems or you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep that we don’t believe is either restless leg or sleep apnea, then there’s a lot of ways called sleep hygiene that we can work on your sleep.

Adequate Restorative Sleep

So at the end of the day, the goal for each person is to get seven hours of restorative sleep per night. With seven hours, our metabolism is faster, our hunger is lower and the work that we’re doing on a daily basis to decrease calories and potentially even burn a little bit more through exercise is actually useful.

If our metabolism is slower, we don’t see the results of what we’re doing with diet and exercise, because we have to decrease our calories even further. And so seven to eight hours of restorative sleep per night. Stay tuned. Next time, we’re going to talk a little bit about sleep hygiene, have a great week.



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