Monday, March 5, 2012

Health and Happiness Summit - Sweet Dreams and Weight Loss with Dr. Breus

Sweet Dreams
Dr. Michael Breus the "sleep doctor" had a lot of interesting things to say about the impact of sleep deprivation on the American population at the Health and Happiness Summit with Dr. Oz.  Dr. Breus is a clinical psychologist, Diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a fellow of the same.   Our caffeine nation would experience lowered blood pressure, better memory, increased energy and slimmer waist lines by valuing their sleep at night. Dr. Breus explained that there are 5 sleep cycles essential to human health regardless of age. Each one of them has a different function. They are divided into Light Sleep which has 2 cycles; Deep Sleep which has two 2 cycles and REM which has 1 cycle.  Light sleep lowers blood pressure and it's that stage where you feel your body relaxing and yourself drifting off. Deep sleep is restorative to the body while REM, perhaps the most interesting of the three, plays an important role in supporting long term memory storage and (BIG surprise) burns calories! REM sleep burns more calories than any other stage of sleep. When I reflect on this it makes me remember two friends who have been confirmed night owls, late night snackers who have struggled with weight gain for the better part of 20 years. Dr. Libby Weaver has added to this discourse by explaining that cortisol production or the "fat hormone"  increases when the body is sleep deprived or put another way stressed out due to lack of sleep with the same demands put on it to perform. It's a survival mechanism used by the body to get through a tough time but by no means should this time be artificially imposed due to poor sleeping habits. It all makes sense now.

GLAMOUR Magazine did a ten week study using Dr. Breus as a consultant to see what kind of impact improved sleep would have on the weight of the subjects. The only thing they had the women change was the amount of sleep they got each night. By increasing the amount of sleep each woman shed weight ranging from as little as 3.5 pounds to the biggest loser at 15 pounds! This is amazing and shows how a stressed out lifestyle does more to put on weight than we might have thought. Poor sleep means poor circulation. If you are suffering from a lack of 'sexiness" in the form of puffy eyes, dark circles and lifeless skin color, try sticking to a regular bed time for that much needed beauty sleep.  A regular sleep cycle with adequate rest is one of the most important things you can do. Other tips were not drinking caffeine after 2PM, limiting alcohol 3 hours before bed time and ceasing rigorous exercise (including hot yoga ) 2 hours before bed time.   

Turn off the gadgets. Checking your facebook updates and fooling with your iPad is not the most relaxing thing to do before you hit the hay. Give yourself at least an hour to unwind both mentally and physically. Constant mental stimulation makes it hard to sleep. Instead take time for yourself by prepping for the next day by laying out your clothes, making the family lunches, self grooming like brushing your teeth and relaxing by reading a book for that last 20 minutes before you go to bed. Chances are you will be less frantic about getting out of the house the next day and sleep easier just knowing you are prepared.
Get your B's So You Can Get Your Z's 
The B vitamins B3, B6 and B12 contribute to good sleep by contributing to healthy sleep patterns. B6 helps the body convert tryptophan to serotonin, a hormone that affects sleep. Check out this very interesting article by Dr. Breus on the connection between weight gain and getting to bed late.
Many thanks to Usana Health Sciences and Dr. Oz's partnership in bringing together all this knowledge for us in a truly action packed seminar at Radio City Music Hall February 26.

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