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Getting Restful Sleep

By: Ann Marie Coppen

Anne Marie Coppen

PhD, FNP, Nurse Practitioner

For a personal response to your health question, Ask Ann Marie at askannmarie@lindora.com. Selected questions will be featured in future columns.

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“A restful 7 can tip the scales in your favor!”

Let’s talk Zzzzz’s

How can lack of sleep possibly impact my weight? 

That is a very good question!  There have been many studies that have suggested a link between lack of sleep and weight gain.  Individuals who sleep less than seven hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese.

A lack of sleep can alter your hormones that impact your appetite and trigger the body to store fat.  Leptin and ghrelin are the two appetite related hormones that appear to be most influenced by lack of sleep.  Leptin is the hormone that controls appetite and ghrelin signals fullness.  Lack of enough sleep can decrease leptin and increase ghrelin.

If that’s not enough, lack of sleep can result in lack of motivation to engage in exercise or even plan and prepare healthier meals…you’re too tired to just do it!

And that’s not all…lack of sleep can have many unwanted and serious consequences.  These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus & concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Decrease in memory retention
  • Increase in the risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • Increase in appetite
I can’t squeeze more than 5 hours a night due to my work schedule…

You are not alone.  Truck driving does not always afford the time or place to get a good night sleep. Between the long driving hours, multiple stops, and the changes in loading and unloading of shipments from day to day, it’s not easy to allow proper planning for sleep.  I know in the trucking industry there is a common saying: “drive when you have to, sleep when you can.”

Many of you have lived by this common saying and have used caffeine (energy drinks, caffeine pills, and energy shots) as stimulants that can allow you to drive the long hours.  Clearly caffeine and similar high energy products will hinder being able to fall asleep as well as quality of sleep.

Planning for proper quality sleep is extremely challenging for all truck drivers. All that I can hope for is to urge you to try to incorporate as many nights (or days) of quality sleep as possible.  The challenges are there, but ultimately you need to set a priority and invest in yourself.  The consequences of not getting restful sleep can be harmful for you, devastating to your family and all who share the road with you.  Do the best you can under the circumstances!

For a more productive, healthier, happier, and potentially longer life, you need to allow your body time to sleep! Breathe deep. Rest easy, our valued professional truck drivers across America, and pleasant dreams.

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