Long Term Success After Weight Loss Surgery – Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of Success

by sandi on December 6, 2017

Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of SuccessWe all know that after Weight Loss Surgery portion sizes, protein first, staying hydrated, fit living, taking our vitamins are all cornerstones of success that we affectionately call “The Rules”.  What if I added one more to the mix that we don’t often think of as a requirement for success?  What if that one were SLEEP?

Our busy lives have us going in multiple directions from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep.  Are YOU getting enough sleep?  I bet not.  How many hours of sleep are you getting?  Most healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.  Many of us get between 5 and 7, if we’re lucky.  My days start between 4:30am and 5am daily and end around 11PM.  That gives me around 6 hours if I fall asleep promptly at 11 and stay asleep until 5. 

Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of SuccessThat rarely happens… Being semi- retired I have the luxury of sitting with my tea and coffee and then leaving for the gym between 6:30 and 7:30 each morning.  Many of you don’t have that luxury – it’s up, workout, shower, get lunch(es) ready, get the kids up and ready and everyone out of the house.  Some days it’s even toss stuff in the crock pot so dinner is about done by the time you walk back in the door 9-11 or maybe 12 or more hours later.  Then it’s dinner, homework, emails, checking in with friends and relatives, prep for the next day and oh my, look at the clock.  It’s time for me to get ready for bed but I just have to sit down and relax by ___________.  (you fill in the blank)   Now the 11PM bedtime is blown, and sleep becomes even more scarce.

What happens when we continually short ourselves on the necessary rejuvenating, healing hours of sleep?  Lots of things and none of them are good.  Here are just a few of the benefits that adequate sleep provide; some you may be familiar with and some that may be new and/or eye openers for you:

  • Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of SuccessDuring sleep, your body rebuilds muscles you’ve worn down during the day and cleans away harmful plaques and waste that are produced in the brain.  These are vital processes that keep both your mind and body running properly
  • Your mind also processes and responds to important emotions and experiences from the day and commits them to memory during sleep
  • Lack of sleep makes it difficult for your body to regulate essential things like APPETITE CONTROL, your immune system, good metabolic function and your ability to maintain a normal body weight
  • Sleep is also essential to regulating your emotions.  In fact, being sleep deprived for just one night can increase your emotional response to negative feelings by 60%
  • Lastly, sleep plays an important role in regulating your circadian rhythm, or internal clock.  This inner clock runs on an approximately 24-hour schedule and regulates when you feel awake and sleepy.  It may also help regulate things like metabolism, immune function and inflammation

Did you get that loud and clear – sleep effects appetite control (who doesn’t crave carbs when they’re tired), good metabolic function, positive vs.  negative emotional response, metabolism, and inflammation?  ALL of these affect our weight and our weight loss.

Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of SuccessI learned the true importance of sleep these last few weeks.  My husband contracted pneumonia. This was scary and we had many Urgent Care, ER and doctor visits.  Until we got the fever under control I was up most of the night listening to him breathe, terrified that the infection would become more rampant.  When I did sleep I awoke at the slightest movement or noise.  I was afraid he would fall getting out of bed to use the bathroom.  Instead of visions of sugar plums I had visions of ambulances dancing in my head.  I was terrified. 

To make a long and arduous story short he is doing fine, has knocked off the pneumonia. He has been released to go back to bike riding slowly and today was his first day at the gym on a bike there – he made it 5 minutes and was done. 

What does all of this have to do with success after weight loss surgery?  Well, I allowed my emotions (the negative ones) to overtake what I knew served me best and ate carbs like crackers, cookies, etc. – right along with him.  I did this until I was actually living with reflux for 24 hours.  It kept me up at night even taking Zantac.  After a night of 2 hours sleep and constant reflux I was done.  I created every excuse in my mind and was about to call my bariatric surgeon to schedule a GI swallow and endoscopy and then thought about it for a minute.  I hadn’t been tracking the crap I had been putting in my body.  I was getting in my fitness, my water, my vitamins and my protein but was ignoring the constant hand to mouth with the other stuff.

Sleep Is One Of The Cornerstones of SuccessThat had to stop or I would be out buying new clothes because nothing fit, and THAT would be tragic as well as unacceptable.  I sat back, looked at my behaviors for the past 2 weeks and then BAM the light went off.  There are several things I could do to break this cycle so that I could sleep and go back to my typical living and eating behaviors.  The first was to clean the junk out of the house.  DONE!  The second was to stop buying the small bags of junk whenever I was in a store.  (Did you know that Loewe’s has Cheetos for sale?).  DONE!  The third was to cut off eating or drinking anything but water by 8PM.  Done.  The fourth was to eliminate all vitamins and supplements for 1 day to let my stomach rest since one that I take for my eyes always upsets my stomach for about an hour.  DONE.  The final was to go to bed when I was watching TV and finding myself drifting off.  No staying up, no getting up and getting tea, or SF hot chocolate, or a yogurt, so I could stay awake and watch whatever show I thought I needed to watch.  That’s why DVR was invented and if I have to wait for a rainy day (and that could be a long time away here in southern California) to catch up on my favorite shows so be it. 

I did all of that yesterday and found that I ate only 850 calories because I ate when I was hungry only.  I went to bed at 9:30 pm when I was starting to drift and slept until 5:20 am.  I woke up amazed as I looked at the clock and hopped out of bed with a smile on my face and started my day.  It’s been a good day too.  Day 2 of managing my sleep and emotions instead of letting them manage me.

The moral of this story is to look at your sleep habits and see if they need some housecleaning.  You’ll be amazed at what might happen.

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