Insomnia and Obesity… Can Reducing Stress Address Them Both?

by on July 20th, 2010 at 7:00 am

With obesity rates and stress levels in America climbing to all-time highs, it is no wonder that people are having such a hard time sleeping. Recently, a connection between insomnia and obesity has been discovered within the region of the brain that controls sleep and waking known as the hypothalamus… which may help explain why insomnia seems so prevalent in obese individuals.

Researchers observed that hypocretin neurons (which play an essential role in both arousal and appetite) are not able to filter “noise” from brain signals. They also found that the neurons rapidly re-organize and become more excitable as a response to stressors such as food deprivation.

They observed that when these neurons are continuously over-activated by environmental or mental stress, they may learn to support sustained arousal—thus triggering sleeplessness and over-eating. They also established that the more stress an individual has, the easier it becomes for hypocretin neurons to become excited.

Another conclusion reached was that people suffering from obesity and insomnia would benefit greatly from learning stress management techniques and reducing stressors in everyday life. The general belief is that this would improve their conditions in more meaningful ways then dieting or addressing symptoms of insomnia alone.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing offer an individual a moment of peace in today’s hectic world. Practicing everyday to the point where relaxation becomes a part of daily routine is ideal—aim for taking time for relaxation twice a day. Depending on schedule and lifestyle, taking just a few minutes in the morning or the end of the day for this purpose can help.

In the morning, focus on positive thinking for the upcoming day, and reflect on an empowering mantra to face the day with a positive attitude. At the end of the day, focus should remain on letting go of the day’s stressors. This can be achieved through rhythmic deep breathing (which will ensure delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the brain and all major organs) and help promote a state of relaxation to prepare for restful sleep.

Limiting the amount of stimulants consumed– including soda, coffee, and tea– is also important. Try to eat a balanced diet and limit processed and fatty foods. Exercise can be tailored to individual lifestyles, but must include at least 3 hours of activity per week, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or running. Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Nature’s herbal remedies have played a vital role in supporting health and vitality, and have been used for many years to promote overall health and well-being. Chamomile, mint, and the extracts of Valerian and St. John’s Wort can be used to support nervous system well-being as well as facilitate regular sleep patterns. Ginger also soothes nervous tension and facilitates digestion after meals.

Finally, allow room for a healthy dose of fresh air and warm sunshine. These simple steps can help promote restful sleep patterns, which can therefore address weight issues… and support well-being for a happy and healthy start to the summer!

PureCalmworks quickly to facilitate a calmed mood and soothed nerves.

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