Monday, January 30, 2012

Putting your needs on the LIST - week 2 - Sleep!

Over the last few years in my PCOS journey, I have had to learn how to find the puzzle pieces that would bring me to my goal of having better health with PCOS.  Although I have been asked to be your Fearless Leader of the FUNtastic Fitness segment of this blog/community, I have felt let to help you in your journey by sharing part of what has worked for me in gaining better Fitness as a whole person, rather than just focusing on the "exercise" puzzle piece in isolation.  

Holding the Fitness piece and putting it into place with nothing around it to support it will not bring your final picture into better focus.  You must know what needs to surround that piece to best fit it into place correctly.  Adequate and restorative sleep is one of the most important things to consider in your health with PCOS and in your treatment plan.  It is a huge part of the overall picture of health and wellness of any person, but especially with our special needs and concerns.

This  week, I'd like you to take a few moments to consider your sleep patterns and how it's helping or hindering your Fitness with PCOS.  Ask yourself some hard questions and learn if you are making getting rest an adequate priority.  If not, learn what you can do to improve things for yourself in this area. Although you don't think the two are related, you'd be surprised to learn just how much sleep will add to or take away from your progress in Power(ing) Up for PCOS.  

With PCOS, one of the main issues we deal with is our high insulin levels.  There are studies that show that lack of sleep or lack of deep, restorative sleep makes our bodies more insulin resistant, raising our chances of developing diabetes and exacerbated PCOS symptoms.  (Look here for more information on this issue.) 

The studies show that  "suppressing deep sleep for just three nights causes a 25 percent drop in insulin sensitivity. The researchers say that the decrease in insulin sensitivity after three nights of bad sleep is equivalent to gaining 20 to 30 pounds."   Talking from first-hand experience here, I know that one of the biggest keys in losing 80 pounds has been to make sure I get a good night's sleep.  There have been nights when I have had to stop in the middle of a project, ignore the dirty dishes in the sink, and go to bed.  It was hard, but definitely the right thing to do at the time.

The nights I stayed up late, used caffeine to push through the normal drop in energy signalling sleep was needed, and burned the candle at both ends caused me to actually CRAVE carbohydrates and more stimulants to get through the next day, signalling a HUGE insulin spike and a body that was more out of balance than before.  I would sometimes be exercising, working hard to eat right, but was still  gaining weight.  I was so frustrated and confused.

On the other hand, I found that going to sleep when I got tired at night (10 p.m.), making sure I have eliminated caffeine and other "stress" as much as possible, and ruling out other sleep disturbances that would keep me from deep, restorative sleep actually helped me LOSE weight and get healthier!  I know it to be true from experience and that's why I feel led to share this with you!  Getting a better night's sleep and lowering my insulin resistance has helped me with my PCOS symptoms and in losing weight, giving me the energy I wanted and needed to pursue fitness activities.  It can do the same for you!  

NOTE:  I do want to mention and have you understand that there is a HUGE connection between women with PCOS and the incidence of sleep issues like insomnia and apnea.  I underwent a sleep study to rule out these issues as a part of my PCOS treatment plan.  I suggest you do the same, if possible.  Also, sleeping all the time isn't OK or normal; when I suggest a good night's sleep, I am thinking of 7-9 hours at night, not taking into account naps during the day.  If you sleep more than 9 hours a night and are napping all day and are still tired, that is a HUGE cause for concern.  Please mention this to your doctor and follow-up with them about it.  You want to make sure that you address any other issues with this ASAP to ensure that you are healthy and under a doctor's care, if needed!

To read more:  look here and here

Your Challenge this week is to assess if you are in getting a good night's sleep, tune in to your needs in this area (remember the list we talked about last week?), and talk to your doctor if you have eliminated all stimulants, are sleeping enough hours a day, but are still tired!  Then, go to bed at night when you get sleepy and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep!

Doing this will make a difference in your health and PCOS treatment!

Let us know on our Facebook Page if this is helping you, any insights you have gained, or if you are following up with medical attention in this area!

We want to hear from you!


*Remember: I am not a medical or fitness professional and I am just sharing what I am doing in this Challenge as a fellow member of your community. Please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program or have medical concerns to ensure that you are healthy enough for physical activity/exercise. *

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