Research says sleep loss may cause weight gain - FOX 32 News Chicago

Research says sleep loss may cause weight gain

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Turns out getting a good night of sleep leads not only to a healthy mind and body; it also can keep the weight off.

You know how you feel when you don't get a good night's sleep. Doctors recommend seven to eight hours, yet more than a third of working adults report getting less than six hours.

Hope Little, who suffers from sleep apnea, says she's tried everything to get to sleep.

"When you're not able to fall asleep anything sounds like a good idea," Little says.

Dr. Miranda Altman is a psychologist at North Shore Sleep Medicine and treats people for insomnia.

"We know that chronic insomnia creates all sort of health related issues. There is certainly a greater incidence of depression, anxiety, and hypertension," Dr. Altman explains. "This is a serious problem. How is this going to impact the quality of my life? How will I perform on my job? Will I be able to maintain social relationships? Will I feel a sense of fatigue? Am I dragging myself through the day?"

The latest research says that lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain. As it turns out, fat cells need sleep as much as your brain does.

Dr. Lisa Shives works with patients who struggle with sleep deprivation and their weight at North Shore Sleep Medicine.

"But now there is new research. Actually, the University of Chicago has done some of the seminal research in this field, shows that having an untreated sleep disorder puts people at risk for weight gain and for metabolic disorders like diabetes, and pre-diabetes," Dr. Shives says.

Adam Mesirow is one patient who suffers from weight gain associated with sleep deprivation. He has worked with Dr. Shives who started by attacking his diet and putting him on vitamin supplements and daily nutrient-rich shakes. She also increased his protein & veggie-intake.

"I have lost 16 pounds and I have a lot more energy," Mesirow says of the process. "And I have far fewer problems in terms of sleep and energy levels during the day."

 Dr. Altman says the link between insomnia and weight gain is well documented, but it's something doctors are only starting to fully understand.

 "You can't resolve or be successful in weight loss if you have insomnia," says Dr. Shives. "You need to treat both for there to be success. It is really about the mind-body connection."

People battling excess weight can have hormonal problems too and when you don't sleep, guess what? It gets worse.

"But knowing that sleep, poor sleep is throwing those hormones off. But we know we can fix the sleep disorders most of the time. It has become a treatment avenue for people who struggle with weight," Dr. Shives explains.

There is a huge industry that is cropping up around helping people sleep. There are even options right on your Smartphone. One app called "sleep cycle" is getting great reviews.

Poor sleepers are also turning to mouth guards, breathing machines called c-paps, and even surgery to help.

In sleep apnea surgery, doctors remove the uvula in the back of the throat, essentially opening the airway. Though thousands are doing it, the medical community gives it mixed reviews.

Dr. Shives says that "as far as surgeries go as of December 2010, it is no longer recommended by the Academy of Sleep Medicine."

The surgery has a 25% success rate, the academy says.

Sometimes it just comes down to how you sleep. If you sleep on your back, that could be part of the problem. Dr. Mona Khana offers a seemingly strange but effective way to help.

"Take a tennis ball about the size of a piece of fruit and put it in a sock. Take that sock and pin it to back of your pajama top. When you do that, you don't allow yourself to sleep on your back and you're forced to sleep on your side," Dr. Mona says.

Not sure if you're getting a good nights sleep? Check out your snooze score.

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