While my clutch-carrying, red lipstick-sporting self is partaking in December’s requisite holiday merriment, I’m trying to tread lightly at the buffet (and bar) so that I don’t end up sized out of my entire wardrobe come January. But our wellness expert, Dr. Kate Naumes, reminds me that monitoring the eggnog and hors d’oeuvres is only part of the equation…
This month, we’ll talk about the effects that sleeping more, getting adequate vitamin D, and spending time with friends can have on your health. We’ll finish up the year with a look at the importance of Naturopathic care.
This week we’re going to walk through the very real benefits of getting shut eye (and what happens when we don’t get it). Over and over again in my practice, I find that the main reasons moms are not getting enough sleep typically involve one or more of the following:
- a lack of understanding of the importance of sleep.
- inadequate scheduling (not making shut-eye a priority).
- sleep interruptions from little ones not sleeping well.
Let’s start with sleep and fat loss. I prefer to focus on fat loss with its emphasis on healthy body composition (ideal body fat and adequate muscle mass) rather than weight loss (which too often focuses on a number on the scale). Now that we’re on the same page, many of us have heard (and tried) the following to shed the extra pounds:
- “Drink more water.”
- “Exercise regularly.”
- “Eat fewer calories.”
- “Eat healthier” (as defined by the latest food fad or science).
While some of the above suggestions have value, others are well-meaning but problematic. Let’s focus instead on the less mentioned (yet key) factor impacting a mom’s ability to lose weight – the presence of adequate sleep. Getting a minimum of eight hours of good quality, uninterrupted sleep most nights of the week just may be what’s keeping you from attaining and maintaining your ideal body composition. This is because quality sleep seems to balance out your hunger hormones, stress hormones, and muscle building/fat burning hormones.
There is a trove of research available about the sleep/weight connection, here are some highlights:
- The large scale Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 60,000 women for 16 years, reported an association between short sleep duration and increased weight and risk for weight gain, and obesity.
- Poor sleep habits can increase hunger and prevent us from feeling full.
- Epidemiologic studies suggest that lack of sleep or sleeping on an altered schedule is an independent risk factor for gaining weight.
I can see some of you moms shaking your head at me but remember there is help out there if you need it. If you already know your child is going to wake you up at 6:00am, try to get into bed by 9:30 p.m. and be asleep by 10 p.m. And also remember, strong is the new skinny. (Thanks, Tyra! I knew there was something worthwhile in all those episodes of Project Runway.) Strive for a healthy body composition, not a certain number on the scale. Let’s enjoy looking healthy and vibrant so we can be the role models we need to be for our daughters and sons.
Dr. Kate Naumes, ND runs a Holistic Wellness practice in uptown. She provides pre-conception and infertility counseling, newborn and pediatric wellness education, as well as ongoing well-woman and menopause support. Learn more at naumesnd.com.