Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sleep Guidance as Part of a Weight Loss Center's Strategy

Bariatric studies have shown that there is a link between obesity and sleep deprivation. A study reported on in the May 1, 2008 issue of the SLEEP journal was designed to get a better understanding of the link. The researchers found a strong relationship between too-little sleep and obesity in both adults and children. Indeed, too-little sleep appears to be a forerunner of obesity and other illnesses. Therefore, we believe that weight loss or bariatric centers should consider instituting programs to help clients or potential clients get enough sleep as another way to combat obesity.

Of course getting enough sleep is not a magic bullet that will make you thin. You need to watch what you eat and get enough exercise. And in some cases, weight loss medications and even surgery might be necessary. However, getting enough sleep is important and should be included as a tool in weight loss and weight maintenance.

Researchers don’t know exactly what role too-little sleep plays in causing obesity. It is believed, however, that too-little sleep might disrupt the normal processes of two hormones that regulate hunger and fullness. These two hormones are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells us that we are hungry, and leptin tells us that we are full.

So the more ghrelin in our body, the more we eat. And the more leptin in our body, the less we eat. Too-little sleep seems to cause more ghrelin to be produced than normal, and cause less leptin to be produced than normal. Thus, a person lacking sleep may eat more food than needed, possibly leading, eventually, to obesity.

Too-little sleep also produces some immediate problems. Too-little sleep interferes with the decision making process. And some studies have shown that a person who has had too-little sleep might operate an automobile in a way similar to that of someone who has drunk too much alcohol. And some children who are sleep deprived have been misdiagnosed as hyperactive.

Moreover, according to a study done in New Zealand, children who are sleep-deprived are more likely to weigh more during adulthood than children who receive enough sleep. Specifically, children who receive less than eleven hours of sleep per night are likely to weigh more as adults than children who receive more than 11 hours of sleep per night. The study researchers recommend that children between 5 and 12 get approximately 12 hours of sleep per night, and that teenagers get at least 8.5 hours of sleep per night.

Bariatric or weight loss centers, that don't already do so, should establish programs that give sleep guidance to clients and their children. These programs could include Website information, seminars, and face-to-face consultation. These programs should emphasize the importance of sleep, including its long term effects. Providing sleep guidance could be an element in a weight loss or bariatric center’s strategic plan.



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