Is Sleep Mak­ing You FAT?

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Dr David McIn­tosh De­sign Olha Blagodir

You have seen it on TV. You read it in the mag­a­zines. You eat too many carbs, you need to do more car­dio. This food is su­per, that one is not. In fact, when it comes to weight gain and weight loss, ev­ery­one seems to be fo­cussing on 2 things - diet and ex­er­cise. So, what if I told you that one vari­able that over­rides both of th­ese when it comes to your weight, has noth­ing to do with food and is more about ly­ing about than mov­ing about? That vari­able is sleep and more im­por­tantly good qual­ity sleep.

We spend a third of our lives sleep­ing. If you look at your day time ac­tiv­i­ties, you might do one hour of ex­er­cise or so in a day. As for eat­ing, that might be 2 hours of your time in a day. So, there is 3 hours of your time. Com­pare that to sleep­ing which should be about 8 hours. But how many of us take our sleep se­ri­ously?

How do you plan your day? Think about that ques­tion for a mo­ment. You plan what time to get to work, drop the kids off at school, do yoga and if there are any stereo­typ­i­cal gen­er­al­i­sa­tions, add that to the list too. Then sleep time comes along. Of­ten this is what you do when ev­ery­thing is done. There is no plan or struc­ture and if needs be, you will burn the can­dle at both ends with late nights and then an early morn­ing to catch up. Sleep is a vi­tal ac­tiv­ity that is just one of those things that you just do. There is no plan.

How does sleep make you fat?

Well good qual­ity sleep doesn’t. But bad qual­ity sleep does. And in terms of poor qual­ity sleep, look no fur­ther than a con­di­tion called sleep apnoea to prove this point. Sleep apnoea is snor­ing that be­comes so bad that you start chok­ing in your sleep. This causes a stress re­sponse in the body that leads to high blood sug­ars in some peo­ple. This high blood sugar can then lead to a fatty liver and di­a­betes. For­get about eat­ing carbs - your body is mak­ing carb lev­els (that is what sugar is) go higher. And this can lead to strokes and heart at­tacks.

What other health fac­tors re­late to sleep apnoea?

Poor sleep, which is what comes with sleep apnoea, makes you tired. When you are tired, you tend not to be as ac­tive. So, your de­sire and mo­ti­va­tion to ex­er­cise can drop off. Now you’re putting on weight be­cause you are tired. But wait- there is more! Peo­ple with sleep apnoea, when their food seek­ing be­hav­iour is checked with spe­cial test­ing, start to de­velop


food crav­ings for high calo­rie, low nu­tri­tion meals. You guessed it - fat mak­ing food. As if this does not sound like a recipe for get­ting fat, there is yet another prob­lem that is the lit­eral ic­ing on the cake.

Gut bac­te­ria: both good and bad bac­te­ria.

It is a fas­ci­nat­ing area of re­search and is worth in­vest­ing some in­ter­net time learn­ing about good and bad bac­te­ria. The bad bac­te­ria in your gut process food in such a way that it can make you fat. The good bac­te­ria can process the same food in such a way that you don’t get fat. Now we all have good and bad bac­te­ria in our gut and th­ese need to be in bal­ance. Guess what hap­pens in those peo­ple with low oxy­gen lev­els from sleep apnoea? The bad bac­te­ria love it and the good bac­te­ria don’t. So, the bad bac­te­ria mul­ti­ply and you end up with fat mak­ing mi­crobes feast­ing on your high fat food and rais­ing your blood sug­ars and feed­ing your fat cells. None of this is good. Even if you are eat­ing the right foods and ex­er­cis­ing, your body sys­tem is not al­low­ing your weight to budge in a hurry.

So, what is the good news? See­ing an ear, nose and throat (ENT) spe­cial­ist to as­sess your breath­ing for sleep apnoea, is a great place to start. Not all ENT spe­cial­ists are in­volved in sleep apnoea man­age­ment, so it is im­por­tant to check first. They will as­sess your air­way, look for block­ages and dis­cuss man­age­ment which may in­clude us­ing con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure (CPAP) ther­apy for adults, med­i­ca­tion, surgery, diet, ex­er­cise and even some crazy things like blow­ing bal­loons!

Dr David McIn­tosh is a pae­di­atric ear, nose and throat (ENT) spe­cial­ist with a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in air­way ob­struc­tion, fa­cial and den­tal de­vel­op­ment and its re­la­tion­ship to ENT air­way prob­lems and mid­dle ear dis­ease. He also spe­cialises in si­nus dis­ease and pro­vides opin­ions on the ben­e­fit of re­vi­sion of pre­vi­ous si­nus op­er­a­tions. Dr McIn­tosh can be con­tacted via web­site.


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