Lose Weight, Sleep BetterOctober 2, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
If you’re overweight and you snore at night, there’s a good chance you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). People with this condition are unable to get adequate quantities of air through the nose and throat while sleeping. This can lead a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream and poor sleep quality due to frequent choking and loud snoring. Even if you set aside enough time to rest, you simply will not be well rested when you wake up. This drowsy state of mind puts people at higher risk for overall mortality resulting from accidents and cardiovascular related health events. The best natural way to address this serious condition is to lose as much excess weight as possible. Today I’ll share three safe and natural techniques that may help you achieve that goal.
The days when snoring was a joking matter are long gone. It’s estimated that about 12 million people in the US alone suffer from sleep apnea. Study after study in the medical literature tells us that this sleep disorder can significantly increase the odds of blood sugar irregularities, high blood pressure and stroke risk. In short, sleep apnea can severely impact the quality and quantity of one’s life. (1,2,3)
A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine is the latest to prove that modest weight loss can lead to dramatic improvements in the sleep patterns of overweight individuals. A total of 264 obese patients with type 2 diabetes were enrolled in the current trial. Their ages ranged from 45-75 years old. Half of the group adopted an “intensive” weight loss program and began exercising about 3 hours per week. The remainder of the study volunteers attended educational classes that focused on the conventional management of diabetes through diet, exercise and social support. After one year, those on the intensive weight loss program lost approximately 24 pounds. Roughly 3 times as many participants in the treatment group achieved “total remission of their OSA”. The researchers specifically noted that those who lost the greatest amount of weight reported the most significant declines in severe OSA symptoms. This final point suggests that even greater improvements could be expected if continued weight loss occurs. (4)
Losing weight and keeping it off can be a major challenge for many people. Three recent trials offer natural suggestions about how to better manage appetite and compulsive eating while on a weight loss program:
- The September 23rd edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined whether prebiotics could decrease hunger and promote satiety (fullness) in a group of 10 men and women. Prebiotics are types of non-digestible carbohydrates that selectively feed the healthy bacteria in the digestive system. 5 of the participants were given 16 grams of prebiotics daily for 2 weeks. The other five were fed a non-prebiotic carbohydrate source (dextrin maltose) for the same period of time. A few interesting observations were discovered in the prebiotic group: 1) levels of glucagon-like peptide 1 and peptide YY increased; and 2) post meal blood sugar levels declined. These changes indicate positive shifts in terms of lowering hunger and encouraging healthier weight management. (5)
- The August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association describes the success of a 3 week relaxation program in curbing emotional eating. The trial involved 60 women who participated in 12 “relaxation training sessions”. A control group, which received only conventional “hospital-based care”, was used as a comparison model. The relaxation course proved effective in reducing the number of emotional eating incidents and also improved key psychological triggers (anxiety and depression). (6)
- A study from June 2009 tested the effects of “auricular acupuncture” in a pilot study of 45 obese women. Half of the participants received legitimate acupuncture and the remainder were administered “sham acupuncture”. The sham leg of the experiment utilized “placebo needles”. These look and feel like regular needles but don’t actually break the skin. All the women received their respective forms of acupuncture twice weekly for 6 weeks. Those who were treated with real acupuncture had higher levels of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin – as compared to when they started the study. The placebo group didn’t exhibit any changes in gut hormone levels that impact appetite and satiety. The authors of the trial concluded that, “auricular acupuncture may have potential benefit on obesity-related hormone peptides”. (7,8)
My regular readers know that I’ve recently completed a 80+ pound weight loss program. I used to suffer from severe sleep apnea myself. Not only did my loud snoring and interrupted sleep concern my wife, but it also impacted her ability to rest peacefully. That was actually one of the most compelling reasons for me to finally address my own weight loss challenge. I didn’t use acupuncture, but I did use my fair share of prebiotics and relaxation techniques to help me along the way. I’m convinced that if I could lose the excess weight and dramatically improve my sleep quality, anyone else can as well.
Tags: Acupuncture, Appetite, Sleep
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diet and Weight Loss, Nutrition