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July 17, 2006



You gain weight because after a sleepless night you tend to need sugar in the blood to make yourself less depressed.

I couldn't open the link, so I'm not sure what it said, but I have read that the theory is that, the first 90 minutes of sleep is when our body is repairing and rebuilding cells. During this time, if there is nothing in the stomach, the body will draw on lean muscle, and not fat. Since muscle is what burns fat, it becomes a vicious cycle of less muscle, more weight gain.

Having a small amount of food in our stomachs at bedtime can aid in weight management.


I personally think the very irregular sleep patterns I had in university contributed a great deal to my weight gain. Not sure why exactly, since all of the above theories seem plausible. It's been a few years since I've left university and am only now recovering some normalcy in my sleep. I don't think it was the only factor, but certainly a contributing factor.

Incidentally Jimmy, I've just finished reading the Atkins' New Diet Revolution book, largely on your recommendation here on your blog, and am starting the diet today!


I suspect that the link between sleep loss and weight gain -- which as a veteran sleep forgoer I'm convinced is valid -- is due to a number of factors.

One study showed that sleep loss tended to correlate with starchy, sugary food choices. I know that's true for me -- when I'm sleep-deprived, give me sweeties.

I suspect you burn energy more efficiently after a good night's sleep too; lack of sleep slows you down generally and therefore you burn less fuel.

It may also be that sleep itself uses a lot of energy. Of course some of the weight differential from when you go to bed vs. when you wake up is water weight lost through respiration, but some of it has got to be burned off.

The hormone thing may be part of the puzzle too.


When I lived in Mexico, I got a strange illness that swelled my legs and ankles and was quite painful. I was given steriods (I had no idea what med. it was until I returned to U.S.) to relieve the symptoms. That coupled with sleepless nights after having babies has really put the pounds on me.

Atkins helps a little, but the last time I was on Atkins, I got tachycardia (scary) so I am on medication to slow down my heart beat--which ALSO increases my weight!

Even though I am afraid to go back on Atkins, we plan on doing it because the benefits outweigh (funny) the drawbacks.


Isn't this, rather, a cue to pray for Jimmy's better sleeping?

When women don't sleep enough, they eat chocolate. It's a lose-gain thing, but it maintains our ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. After which, more chocolate is desired.. a vicious cycle.


I join with Suzanne in the medicinal-steroid weight gain (and post pregnancy weight -though my youngest is soon to be 11 years old :-D).

I was advised that the doses of steroid I inhale/consume from my inhalers/tablets would increase the appetite....too right! Now it's a catch 22...I need the medication so that I can breathe...but one of the side effects is increased appetite and weight gain....or then again I could always quit the medication, quit the breathing and wear a smaller coffin...dcisions, decisions.

Seriously though,next to packing up smoking, this addiction to food is the hardest thing I've ever had to struggle with on a daily basis.


In the back of the New Roman Missal is a section on "How to be a better Catholic".

The very first rule is "Get up at a fixed time every day".

That is very difficult with insomina, and I know from experience.

So somehow, sleep is a critical element in living a good Catholic life. Perhaps that is because we are to live in harmony with the Natural Law.


The "South Beach" and "Glycemic Index" type diets seem to make a lot more sense to me.

Carol Malone

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea back in January. Thank God for my doctor who figured it out from a couple of comments that I made. There definitely IS a link between sleep apnea and weight gain, because of the oxygen deprivation messing up your systems and because of daytime overeating of sugary stuff to wake yourself up. I think it's definitely worth it to look up sleep apnea and ask a doctor if you have any symptoms.

Sleep apnea means your throat tissues are closing down as you relax in sleep, cutting off your air supply. Your body has no air for a time, until your brain can wake you up enough to make you snort the airway open again. My symptoms were loud snoring, extreme daytime fatigue no matter how much sleep I got, unshakeable morning grogginess, major carb cravings and weight gain, daytime irratibility and crankiness that just didn't feel like "me," sore throat, headache, and nasal stuffiness in the morning, reluctance and uneasiness about laying down to sleep, and nightmares. After an overnight test in a sleep lab, I learned that I was waking up out of deep sleep over 50 times an hour (!) and had completely ceased breathing a dozen times an hour (!!), and my blood oxygen levels were dangerously low. No wonder sleep was NOT rest for me! I was so sleep deprived my body had given up on waking me up with leg kicks and just let me lay there, motionless, exhausted, and not breathing.

There are other symptoms, including dropping dead of a heart attack after years of having no oxygen has killed off cardiac cells (it's called a "silent killer"). If any of this sounds familiar or your spouse is a grumpy, sleepy, carb-munching snorer who falls asleep at odd times (like in church or in front of the tv), check it out before it's too late! Sleep apnea is more common than we think--we think snoring is just a joke--and it gets worse as you age and as it makes you gain weight. Yes, it can be annoying to learn to sleep with a mask on your nose blowing air down your throat all night, but oh how wonderful it is to wake up as refreshed and energetic as a child!! I sure do hope and pray this information saves lives.

...And for the women (and the guys married to one), insomnia is also one of the symptoms of menopause.

Some Day

I think it is all a matter having order with oneself in every way possible. The adult can get off ok with 7 hours of sleep and about an hour of siesta. If he eats three meals a day with a proportionate amount of food in relation to activity, and doesn't chow between meals, except for a light, LIGHT snack between lunch and dinner. The problem lies here in the food and the style of life here in this country. And I can say this by careful observation. I play football and do wrestling in HS. Yet I lost only 20 pounds in the whole year ( weight training kind of keeps it balanced, only in wrestling I got down to 171 lb.) And I ate based on my activities and with the intention of gaining muscle mass. Therefore I ate a lot, and lots of protein. Yet when I went to Brazil (on retreat mind you!) I lost 5+ pounds in about one month, with less exercise and a LOT MORE EATING and LESS SLEEPING. Why did I lose weight? The food and the habits. I ate more, but it was fresh, REAL food. NO CHEMS (or inspectors:) ). I slept less because I have a bad habbit of finishing my prayers late at night instead of during the day, and the bell rang and I can't do whatever I want (thank God). But my soul and mind, etc. where at peace. I went to the Blessed Sacrament Daily, sung the Office in community, prayed more, and was disconnected from the valley of tears, and had my eyes on Heaven.
Conclusion, US food has something that makes us gain weight, we are undisiplined, spending 4 hours in the gym and 5 in front of the mirror is the sin of vanity, life in this country makes us to aggitated and stressful, which causes weight gain, and not enough time for God, which hurts the soul, which inturn hurts the body and mind.

Solution: Be a Saint.
May Our Lady give us Graces to reach this goal.


May Richard Simmons intercede for us who have recourse to him.

(I'm going to be in Purgatory a lot longer than many of you..)

And for Anonymous who said
"...And for the women (and the guys married to one), insomnia is also one of the symptoms of menopause."

THAT comment could only have been made by someone who is wildly jealous of menopausal beards. Plus, a woman's insomnia is often caused by a man who all but snoringly inhales the drapes during those nights when he "didn't sleep a wink."

David Tarvin

Mens Health says repeatedly that the body burns more calories when you are asleep than at any other time. If that is true, then it makes sense that people who get less sleep lose less weight, and, combined with poor eating, would in fact gain weight.

What!? You shouldn't be allowed to breath oxygen?
I tell you, some people really don't deserve to have a tongue!

That is to Honora


Well, at least SOME folks don't have to breathe (garlic-scented) re-circulated air! Fortunately, women of every stage have found a remedy to offset the effects of that. If you look in my top right drawer, you'll find it. No, not the sledgehammer -- the chocolate.

(I'm not doing much justice to holy Matrimony here, am I?)

Jonathan Prejean

I second Carol's warning about sleep apnea. It is entirely possible to have no idea that you have this condition until serious cardiovascular symptoms show up (and sometimes, it is missed even then). Weight is a factor, but so is genetics. If you are snoring enough that your spouse or others notice it, you could be at risk.
With sleep apnea, it's not so much that you can't fall asleep, but that you're not really sleeping when you do. The end result is much the same as if you had insomnia.

Jonathan Prejean

"Plus, a woman's insomnia is often caused by a man who all but snoringly inhales the drapes during those nights when he 'didn't sleep a wink.'"

It's entirely possible that neither of you were sleeping: he wasn't because of sleep apnea, and you weren't because of the snoring.

Susan Peterson

Sleep apnea can also kill other people....when you fall asleep at the wheel. My husband fell asleep at the wheel(at 11am after 9 hours in bed), woke up going 60 through a field, swerved back onto the road and narrowly avoided hitting another car. He went on CPAP (the machine which blows air into your nose and mouth; the acronynm stands for continuous positive airway pressure) and suddenly became more energetic and less cranky and stopped falling asleep while driving.

He also lost 50 pounds on Atkins, but the weight loss made no difference to his apnea.

Besides the heart there is another organ which is very oxygen sensitive and whose normal function can be permanently affected by years of sleep apnea. This might encourage the doctor-adverse males on the list to check it out sooner rather than later!


Good gravy, what's that thundering sound I hear?


And a single isn't even going to know.


If I cannot sleep, I meditate instead in the same period of time, so I'm still in a restful mode of activity at least. Of course, I don't think I have any medical problems like sleep apnea though.

John E

I would think that less sleep would cause your metabolism to slow down and also give you less energy when you exercise, causing a lower increase in metabolism that you would normally get during exercise and a quicker return to a low metabolism.

Unfortunately, as a father who has a long commute to work and who also desires to either go to Mass or work out in the morning, it's difficult to get enough sleep.

Carol Malone

To answer Puzzled: Just go home for a visit with the folks. Ask them in the morning if they heard thunderous snoring through the walls. Also, I wasn't going to mention this, but if you wake up in a puddle of drool and your tongue is all dry and fuzzy, you've been mouth breathing--and maybe snoring.

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Candida Free Diet

Dude--that is some sweet stuff- It seems sleep is both friend AND foe!

Fast Muscles Gain

Very nice article. I feel inspired to use your advices and I will check 4 other your articles. But are you sure about all you tell us about here, forgive me to ask but ....?

Acai Berry

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top dietpills

Great information, I've bookmarked your post.

I suspect one burns energy more efficiently after a good night's sleep too; lack of sleep slows you down generally and therefore you burn less calories. Hence the weight gain vs. weight loss with more full night of sleep...

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