Sleep is something I think about a lot these days. Not because I’m tired, but because I have severed obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re not familiar with this particular disorder, and you don’t feel like clicking that link, here’s a brief summary: my esophagus hates my brain, and tries to strangle it in my sleep. Because the esophagus, not being the brain, is stupid and doesn’t understand that if the brain dies then it dies too.
All right, all right, it’s slightly more complex than that. Quite serioiusly, it means that I don’t breathe properly when I sleep. In fact, I’ll actually stop breathing – which then wakes me up because I can’t breathe. This happens dozens of times an hour, meaning that without my B-PAP machine I can sleep for 24 hours straight and get no rest. Because I’m not actually, you know, sleeping.
I also snore like a chainsaw trying to cut concrete without the B-PAP. So my wife doesn’t get any rest either.
So that’s great and all, right? But what does it have to do with this whole weight loss thing? And that’s a fair question, deserving of a fair answer. And that answer is, if you aren’t getting enough sleep than you are going to gain weight. And you’re going to have a whole host of other health problems. According to a quick little article from the Mayo clinic, insomnia can result in:
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Increased risk and severity of conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease,and diabetes.
Just from my own anecdotal evidence, I can vouch for most of those. I mean, I was exhausted. I consumed caffeinated sodas by the two liter on a daily basis (because I’ve never developed a taste for coffee) and generally overate in an effort to stay conscious. I was cranky as hell. And all of that led to high blood pressure and diabetes.
So, are you trying to exercise and lose weight? The number one thing you can do is get some sleep. Seriously. Most people need eight to nine hours a day, and don’t get it. So they wake up tired, consume a whole lot of caffeine, don’t exercise (because they’re tired), and then the whole cycle starts over again.
If you’re in that cycle, get off the caffeine – slowly, over the course of a week, to avoid blinding headaches for a couple of days. Then get yourself to bed and turn out the light and go to sleep at least eight hours before you are scheduled to wake up. You will feel better, you will have more energy, and you will be able to go and do that exercise you have been neglecting.
And if you don’t (or if your long-suffering spouse complains for years that you snore like to wake the dead, and she’s not sleeping because of it – not that I’m familiar with that scenario at all…)? Go see your doctor. Don’t screw around with over the counter sleeping pills or the like. See your doctor, and take her advice. You’ll be glad you did.