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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sleep & Post Pregnancy Weight Loss

America is a sleep-deprived nation. America is also an overweight nation. It makes you wonder if an strong link exists between weight gain and lack of sleep. Some studies have shown that even one week of sleep deprivation can make a normal adult's blood chemistry similar to that of a diabetic.
A new study has found that post-pregnancy women who have more than 5 hours of sleep per day have a much higher chance of shedding those pounds gained during pregnancy.


"Getting enough sleep may be as important as a healthy diet and physical activity to returning to pre-pregnancy weight," Gunderson said.

According to the study authors, scientists have linked low amounts of sleep to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. But there's been little research into the connection between sleep and pregnancy and weight.

For the new study, the researchers looked at the weights and sleep patterns of 940 women who enrolled in a study in Massachusetts during early pregnancy from 1999 to 2002.

A year after giving birth, 124 of the women retained at least 11 pounds of the weight they had gained during pregnancy. After the researchers adjusted the statistics to take into account such factors as family income, they found that women who slept five hours a day six months after giving birth were more than three times likelier to keep weight on compared to women who slept seven hours.

Sleeping six, seven or eight hours a day didn't appear to raise a woman's risk of keeping on weight. "Basically, the women who were sleeping fewer hours did not lose as much weight as women who slept several more hours," Gunderson said.

The study findings, by researchers at Kaiser Permanente and Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, were published in the November issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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Claire D. Brindis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, said her own experience of giving birth to two children taught her about how stress, sleep and weight are all connected.

"Having lived this, it's partly that you're more tired, and you feel you need food to keep you energized," she said. "And when you're stressed, you feel like you can reward yourself with food. It creates a sense of comfort."

Weight gain in pregnancy is healthy and natural. If you weigh the average for your height then you should gain between 25 – 35. After the baby is born, the extra weight will go fairly quickly after the birth. The majority of the weight comes from the amniotic fluid, placenta, and extra body fluid and blood. This will account for about 8 to 12 lbs of weight, plus 6 to 8 lbs for the newborn baby.

In many cases, the postpartum weight gain is more of a result of stress, sleep deprivation, behavioral changes and eating disorders related to caring for the newborn, rather than weight rention during pregnancy.

The new study suggests that having enough sleep may help new moms regain their pre-pregnancy weight.