Maybe You Should Sleep On It

One of the things I’ve come to realize in recent years is that “dad bod” is a VERY real thing. Having a condition like Diabetes that increases your gut size doesn’t help, either. But I recently made a short video where I filmed myself doing karate katas and when I reviewed the video to do some editing, I was taken aback at how “thick” I looked. And since this isn’t a rap video, being “thick” is NOT a good thing. I work pretty hard at trying to maintain my weight, but the old adage about gaining muscle mass increasing your overall weight holds some truth as well. I guess that classifies me as a muscled fatman (says the word “fatman” with a raspy Batman voice).

This is why I’m usually game to try anything to help trim the fat, as it were, so long as it isn’t dangerous or harmful and doesn’t affect my Diabetes. Granted, let’s agree that EVERYTHING affects Diabetes, so that’s a tough one. But I try to maintain four to six workouts a week, I’ve incorporated reduced-carbohydrates, reduced daily caloric intake, green tea consumption and trying out any supplements that might help in slimming me down. The bottom line is that falling into a caloric deficit that forces one’s body to burn fat as a fuel source is the only genuine source of weight-loss, although there are different ways to achieve this.

That’s why I was deeply fascinated when I read somewhere that proper sleep can help with weight loss. To be honest, no one loves sleep more than I do. Except maybe my wife. But given Type-1 Diabetes, PTSD and small children in the house, getting a proper night’s sleep or even enjoying a decent nap can be a somewhat fleeting thing. Not to mention that as much as I LOVE my insulin pump, it’s frequent alarms for all reasons throughout the night tend to keep both my wife and I from getting a full, uninterrupted 8 hours of rest.

For those reasons, I decided to look into the matter and see what could be potentially inflating my middle, other than my love for a good burger, as it relates to sleep. An article posted by The Sleep Foundation states that there seems to be a correlation between modern families getting less sleep and the fact that obesity is on the rise. One of the concepts the article proposes is the fact that lack of sleep affects the neurotransmitters that control one’s appetite, leading to greater consumption of food throughout the waking day.

This actually makes a lot of sense to me. I used to work with a lady who swore by grabbing a snack when she felt sleepy on the job. I’ll admit that on days where I felt blasted and needed a nap, grabbing a quick bite to eat would usually refresh me for a short period of time, so I personally feel that there’s some truth to this. Not least of which is the fact that lack of sleep will cause a lack of energy for sports and activities.

The article goes on to point out that less sleep means you have more time to snack and eat, a pleasure that I am FREQUENTLY guilty of. Especially during late-night blogging sessions, I’ll often indulge in some of the very snack foods that I should be trying to avoid. It ends by pointing out the usual sleep recommendations: regular schedule, pitch-dark room, no eating before bed and reducing one’s stress. To be honest, I don’t know of any person who can do ALL of those things. So are we just basically screwed and have to surrender to the oncoming “dad bod?”

Another article I found by WebMD brings up most of what the Sleep Foundation article does but it also points out that we tend to make bad decisions when we’re tired, which leads to depending on sugar-filled caffeine drinks to jumpstart our mornings and eating crap all day since our bodies have difficulties fighting food cravings when tired. Add to that fact that if you’re exhausted you’ll be in absolutely NO mood to exercise and BAM! Weight gain! One direct point that the WebMD article makes states, “Too little sleep triggers a cortisol spike. This stress hormone signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. Translation: you’re more apt to hang on to fat.”

I found a few more articles from different sources but they basically parrot what I’ve provided already, so I won’t bother. But the take home to today’s post is that sleeping won’t make you LOSE weight, but lack of sleep will certainly hinder your efforts to do so. In fact, lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight. So, let’s clarify this… Getting more sleep can help me to curb my appetite and encourage my efforts to lose weight? Sounds fantastic. Now, to find a way to get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep… ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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