Predicting Sleep

Are you aware that overweight adults spend more of their sleep in the REM (rapid-eye movement) state than healthy weight adults do? Well, a Penn Medicine study reveals this information. Your sleep relates to what you eat as an individual’s body composition and caloric intake can influence time spent in specific sleep stages. The researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will be presenting this topic at SLEEP 2016, which is the 30th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Of 36 healthy adults, the study revealed they experienced two consecutive nights of 10 hours in bed per night at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Changes that occur during sleep were recorded on the second night by polysomnography, which records the physiological changes. Resting energy expenditure and body composition were assessed the morning following the first night of sleep and their food and drink intake was measured each day. The body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and resting energy expenditure were not significant predators of sleep stage duration, but the overweight adults exhibited a higher percentage of time spent in the REM stage of sleep. This is when dreams typically occur and are characterized by faster heart rate and breathing, and less restorative sleep than in non-Rem stages in the normal-weight adults.

Their increased protein intake predicted less stage 2 sleep, when a person’s heart rate and breathing are fairly normal and their body temperature lowers slightly and predicts more REM sleep. This research adds to their knowledge how lifestyle behaviors may influence the quality of our sleep, with the culture of pressure to sacrifice sleep to maintain productivity.

In 2013 a study from the Penn team found that those with late bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction, might be more susceptible to weight gain due to the increased consumption of calories during late-night hours. Boy, can I relate to that. Snacking late in the evening has become a problem with many of us and these types of snacks are not usually the healthy ones! Then a 2015 study found that eating less late at night may help curb the concentration and alertness deficits that accompany sleep deprivation.

It all comes down to the same thing; eat healthy good meals and keep your snacks limited to those healthy fruits, veggies and such, and limit the late night snacking. Sleep well tonight!

Dr Fredda Branyon

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