Health benefits of getting good sleep may include impact on obesity

This weekend’s Daylight Saving Time change might be disruptive to some people’s sleep. One Northern Virginia doctor is stressing the impact sleep has on health.

This weekend’s Daylight Saving Time change might be disruptive to some people’s sleep and a Northern Virginia doctor wants to stress the impact sleep can have on health.

“There’s actually a lot of health benefits just from getting adequate sleep at night,” said Dr. Jason Singh, an internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Manassas.

Dr. Jason Singh is an internal medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Manassas. (Courtesy Kaiser Permanente)

There’ve been numerous studies published to show the link between sleep and heart health issues, for example.

“And, more recently, JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, pointed out from a randomized clinical trial that improving and maintaining adequate sleep could reduce weight and actually suggested it to be a viable intervention for obesity prevention and weight loss programs,” he said.

Singh explained that when you’re well rested, your appetite decreases. A lot of that has to do with neuro hormones that stimulate appetite. They go down when you’re well rested and so you’re less likely to indulge on food.

So, how might Daylight Saving Time cause problems?

“When you’re exposed to more light in the evening, your body will not prepare you as well for sleep, and without proper sleep, our body goes into a heightened state of stress,” Singh said. “And that starts to affect our blood pressure, our heart rate, breathing, focus, judgment, and that’s where you start to develop health problems.”

Singh said it’s not a good idea to try to catch up on sleep in the middle of the day.

“With the Daylight Saving itself, try to avoid long naps. I know it’s incredibly tempting when you’re feeling sluggish during the day, but if you have to take them do it earlier in the day and no longer than 20 minutes,” he said.

Some other tips for best rest:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Get enough natural light, especially earlier in the day.
  • Be active, but try not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Within a few hours of bedtime avoid alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar.
  • 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, avoid artificial light and turn off screens such as TVs or smartphones.
  • Use a blue light filter on your computer or smartphone.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet.
  • The optimal sleep temperature should be somewhere between 60 to 67 degrees.

“What I always tell my patients is think of your bedroom as a cave. It should be cool, dark and quiet to enhance your sleep,” Singh said.

Mental stress also can be a factor.

“Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow,” Mayo Clinic staff recommends online. “Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety.”

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