We all know the beauty of getting a good night’s sleep — and unfortunately, we’ve all also experienced those nights of tossing and turning and waking up feeling like you haven’t slept a wink. Lack of sleep may cause you to wake up feeling tired, irritable, foggy and stressed. Your days can feel less productive and accomplishing everyday tasks may feel overwhelming. You may not realize it, but chronic sleep deprivation can seriously affect your health. In fact, lack of sleep has also been associated with higher weight gain and obesity risks in recent years. 

Many common factors contribute to poor rest, including stress, anxiety, pain, medication, caffeine, alcohol, sleep disorders and health conditions such as heartburn or asthma. It is vital to establish a sleep routine that fits your life and is proactive in fighting against these obstacles.

Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep 

According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), prioritizing rest is one of the best ways to support your immune system and overall health. Regular adequate sleep at night helps you:

  • Get sick less often.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Lower your risk for serious health problems like diabetes.
  • Reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Strengthen your heart health.
  • Increase exercise performance. 
  • Improve your memory. 
  • Think more clearly and perform better in school or at work.
  • Get along better with people.
  • Make good decisions.
  • Avoid injuries associated with sleepiness such as car wrecks.

The Ideal Sleep Schedule

Your body sets your internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, based on the daylight pattern where you live. This process helps you naturally get tired at night and stay alert during the day. If you have to work in the evenings and sleep during the day, you may have trouble getting enough sleep. Your biological clock can also be disturbed when traveling to a different time zone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults between the ages of 18 and 60 should get at least seven hours of sleep per night, adults ages 61 to 64 should get between seven and nine hours per night, and those 65 years of age and older should get between seven and eight hours per night. The amount of sleep you need also depends on various factors, including:

  • Sleep quality – Frequently interrupted sleep is not quality sleep. The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity.
  • Previous sleep deprivation – If you are already sleep-deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.
  • Pregnancy – Changes in hormone levels and physical discomfort can result in poor sleep quality.
  • Aging – Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults. As you get older, however, your sleeping patterns might change. Older adults tend to sleep more lightly, take longer to start sleeping and sleep for shorter periods than younger adults. Older adults also tend to wake up multiple times during the night.

Making small changes to your daily routine can help you get the sleep you need. During the day, try to spend time outdoors, get in some physical activity, limit caffeine intake late in the day, avoid eating a big meal close to bedtime and only drink alcohol in moderation. In the evening, work to establish a routine that will encourage better sleep, such as a consistent bedtime, avoiding screens close to that time and creating a good sleep environment with limited light and noise. 

Try a Sleep Disorder Screening

Sleep disorders can be a cause of sleep deprivation. You may have a sleep disorder if you experience trouble falling or staying asleep, frequent loud snoring, feel tired after a full night of sleep, pause breathing during sleep or have a tingling feeling in legs and arms that get better with movement. There are several types of sleep disorders, including: 

  • Central sleep apnea occurs when you regularly stop breathing while you sleep because your brain doesn’t tell your muscles to take in air. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is something that physically blocks your breathing.
  • Insomnia involves difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • Hypersomnia is a condition where you have trouble staying awake during the day, even when doing activities such as working or driving.
  • Parasomnias occur during arousals in sleep, such as nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are disruptions to the internal body clock that regulates the 24-hour cycle of biological processes.
  • Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that involves uncontrollable drowsiness through the daytime. 

If you think you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, consider scheduling a screening. The University of Kansas Health System offers home sleep testing and in-lab sleep studies. Home sleep testing utilizes a device in your home used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea by monitoring breathing and oxygen levels. An in-lab sleep study is used for more extensive diagnostic testing by monitoring breathing and brain waves, muscle activity, heart rhythm and blood oxygen levels. A sleep study can help determine the root cause of sleep disorders and help your doctor develop a treatment plan.

The Connection Between Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain 

The Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently examined 20 previously conducted studies from 1975 to 2021 to learn about the correlation between quality sleep and eating habits. Researchers measured quality sleep through deep sleep (non-rapid-eye movement), REM sleep (rapid eye movement), sleep efficiency, how long it takes to fall asleep and waking up after sleep onset. Overall, the literature review found that people who consumed more complex carbohydrates with fiber, more protein, fruits, vegetables and anti-inflammatory nutrients reported better sleep.

Adults getting less than seven hours of sleep consistently have shown increased weight gain, a body mass index of 30 or higher, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and depression. The lack of sleep may lead to fatigue and less physical activity. Additionally, research suggests an association between sleep restriction and negative changes in metabolism. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who slept an average of four hours a night tended to have an increased appetite for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates compared to those who average 10 hours of sleep per night. The body regulates hormones associated with hunger during sleep, including ghrelin and leptin. Without adequate sleep, the hunger hormones will become imbalanced, leaving you craving those less than substantial snacks. Check out our meal-prep guide for some nutrient-dense food ideas.

Medical Weight Loss

A nutritious diet, physical activity and regular sleep are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At KC Wellness, we are here to help you develop an effective and individualized program to deliver the most health benefits. Our doctors and professional office staff offer decades of experience in helping our patients feel their best. We meet with you to:

  • Discuss your health history in detail.
  • Perform a comprehensive physical examination.
  • Perform extensive laboratory testing.
  • Create a customized plan that will help you lose weight and improve your overall health.

We are proud to say that approximately 90% of our patients have lost the amount of weight they wanted and have kept it all off. They have also decreased their blood pressure, watched as Type 2 diabetes disappeared and reversed life-threatening cholesterol readings. To find out how we can help you establish a wellness plan that works for you and your lifestyle, call us at 816-214-5276.