How to Sleep Away Those Unwanted Pounds

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Common sense would indicate that the formula for weight control is very simple: Don't eat more calories than you expend and your weight should remain the same. Eat less calories you loose weight, eat more calories and you gain weight. Many people make sure that they burn up extra calories by going to the gym or engage in sports activities.

Michael Thorpy, M.D, the director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, offers a wonderful alternative activity that may just be the ticket for loosing some unwanted pounds: Sleeping!

That is correct! Some sleep researchers claim that getting the proper amount of decent sleep will aid the effort to lighten the load on wary skeletons.

The Lancet, one of the oldest peer-reviewed medical journals, published a study done by the University of Chicago in 1999 which associated sleep disturbances such as restricted sleep to about four hours over a period of six nights with negatively affected carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine functions.

Metabolism is the term used to describe the efficiency of how foods are being processed within the body, and endocrine functions are involved with the regulation of metabolic processes.

The Journal of the American Medical Association also got into the act of researching the affects of sleep on hormonal functioning. They found that age related sleep changes were associated with hormonal alterations. The endocrine system involves the structures that regulate the production of hormones. This study correlated their findings with The Lancet research and found that disturbed sleep patterns indeed influence the hormonal functions negatively.

The human body is to a great degree regulated by circadian rhythms. Dr. Joyce Walsleben is the director of the Sleep Disorder Center at the New York School of Medicine and the author of A Woman's Guide to Sleep: Guaranteed Solutions for a Good Night's Rest. She writes: "When you disrupt sleep, you disturb your hormones, you become glucose intolerant, you want to eat more, and you don't metabolize what you eat well."

Young people can get by on very little sleep or at times on no sleep at all because they are often involved with non sleeping activities which burn those extra calories. This leads to thinking that sleep is not all that important, but once we get a little older, it is clear that we need to plan our lives around good sleeping habits in order to function effectively in our waking world.

What's Keeping You From A Good Night's Sleep, and from shedding those extra pounds?
There are many reasons that contribute to not sleeping well. A leading cause is depression. Depression is not well understood by most people although many people suffer from it not withstanding. Depressed people often cannot turn of their negative thought patterns and this interferes with their sleeping habits. There are many precursors to a full blown diagnosis of depression which can also interfere negatively with sleep patterns.

Things such as stress, anxiety, being overworked, caffeine use, alcohol, stimulant medications such as diet pills and so on. What must also be considered are environmental factors such as excessive noise and light. Your body has light receptors in the skin and when exposed to light these receptors will signal the brain that it is not time to sleep. Of course some people appear to be day sleepers and light exposure may not hinder their sleep.

Some people will employ substances such as alcohol or sleeping medications to get to sleep however, these are not good solutions. There is the rebound affect dynamic that will interfere with chemically induced sleep. This rebound effect comes into play a few hours after falling asleep after imbibing in that relaxing drink. The alcohol or other sleeping agent will wear off and the person wakes up and will have even greater trouble getting to sleep. In addition, if the alcohol or other means do produce eight hours or so of sleep, you will in all likelihood wake up very tired and not refreshed because that important dream stage or deep sleep stage will have been interfered with.

It is interesting to note that until very recently it was well known that lack of sleep would cause all kinds of physiological and emotional problems, exactly why this was so remained a mystery. Some of the studies mentioned here are beginning to shed some light that will lead to resolving this ambiguity.

The question that needs to be answered is: Just how do we ensure a good nights sleep?
First of all make sure that there are no medical reasons that contribute to sleep impairment. If medical reasons exist make sure that these problems are properly treated. The same goes for any existing psychological problems.

One method to ensure reliable sleep patterns is to make sure that you sleep regularly at the same time every day. That is go to sleep at the same time and get up at the same time every day. If you wake up at 6am on weekdays, do not sleep in on weekends. Get the same amount of sleep every night. Find out how much sleep suits you best. Don't take naps during the day unless this is a regular habit. When taking naps make sure that you don't sleep more than 30 minutes at the most. 15 to 20 minutes are the well known power nap times.

It is also important to make your sleeping space a special place. It need to be a safe, special place for only sleep or sex. The bedroom should not serve as your office/living/room/kitchen/dining room etc.

Keep the room quiet. Dark and cool and only go to bed when you're sleepy.
And then there is exercise... You've all heard it so many times, and yet just getting up the motivation to exercise always seems to be nearly impossible. There is an inherent paradox about exercise and they are both good! First of all, exercise will provide you with more energy. That is correct, work out and you feel better and more energized. On the other hand, tiring out your body physically will enhance your sleep!

Get rid of unwanted thoughts that intrude into your sleep. Easier said than done? Well yes and no. One "trick" that has proven to work for many people is to write down your unwanted thoughts. On one side of the paper, the left side, write down the problems that are interfering with your sleep. On the right side of the paper write down the possible solutions. This exercise helps put what is on your mind outside of you. Studies have also shown that this technique is often used by people who are in the problem solving business, it is referred to as incubating your dreams. In this way they dream about the stated problem/s and in their dreams find solutions.

The great thing about dreams is that everything is possible and novel ideas can be explored leading to potential remedies.

Lastly: Don't try too hard to sleep. If you can't sleep, get up. Do something relaxing such as read. TV watching is not advisable because that tends to stimulate your system too much. Stay awake until your eyes start to close involuntarily. Don't look at the clock, it takes your focus away from sleeping.
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