March 9, 2007
Doctor Sanjay Gupta
A loss of sleep means more than bags under your eyes. It means more pounds for your paunch.
Bill TenEyck has always battled the bulge. He says since his forties, he's suffered three heart attacks and watched the numbers on his scale go up and down like a yo-yo.
His cardiologist couldn't figure out why his weight was fluctuating, so he suggested a sleep specialist. "I made the assumption that my fatigue and my inability to do things was because my heart was just failing."
TenEyck was diagnosed with sleep apnea. His tests found some evenings he'd stopped breathing 33 times in one hour. He wasn't getting rest. And that wasn't helping his weight. Not only does a lack of sleep zap your energy, but studies have found that sleep deprived people just seem to eat more.
Doctors say chaotic sleep patterns tend to develop chaotic eating habits. And that can mess up your metabolism, and cause you to burn less calories. Researchers have also found, that people who got 4 hours of sleep or less a night, saw a rise in the hormone, ghrelin that stimulates the appetite and causes people to eat.
"They got these patients to sleep better, and when they repeated the levels of these hormones, they found that the level diminished significantly," said Dr. Thomas Lorusso of the Northern Virginia Sleep diagnostic Center.
Today, TenEyck is working on keeping the pounds off. He uses a C-pap device to help regulate his breathing - it blows air through his nose, and keeps his airways open. He says it's been a lifesaver, because for once in his life, he's getting a good night's sleep.