Did you know what you eat affects how you sleep?

Research shows that people who often eat high-fat foods not only gain weight, they also experience a disruption of their sleep cycles. Try dairy foods, they contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts and seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs. But don’t overeat before bedtime.

Cut all caffeine from your diet four to six hours before bedtime. Make sure to check your meds, some over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain caffeine.

It’s best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. Alcohol has different effects and sometimes may help you fall asleep. Other times you may experience frequent awakenings, less restful sleep, headaches, night sweats and nightmares. If you are drinking at night, have water to dilute the alcohol’s effect.

Beware of spicy foods and heavy meals. It can lead to heartburn. Skip the high-protein snack before bedtime, they are harder to digest. Keep hydated throughout the day, but stop the fluids by 8PM.

Remember, a good time sleep, 7-8 hours helps with your weight.

Surprising Reasons for Gaining Weight

If you started taking in more calories than usual or cutting back on exercise, you wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers on the scale crept higher. But what if you’re doing everything the same as you always do and your weight still goes up?

Here are a few surprising reasons for gaining weight

1. Lack of Sleep: If you’re up late, the odds are greater that you’re doing some late-night snacking, which will increase your calorie intake. The other reason involves what’s going on biochemically when you’re sleep deprived. Changes in hormone levels increase hunger and appetite and also make you feel not as full after eating.

2. Stress: When life’s demands get too intense, our bodies go into survival mode: Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. And then of course, we may reach for high-calorie comfort foods in times of stress.

3. Menopause: Most women do gain some weight around the time of menopause, but hormones probably aren’t the only cause. Aging slows the metabolism, so you burn fewer calories, and changes in lifestyle (such as exercising less) play a role. But where you gain weight also may be related to menopause, with fat accumulating around your waist, not your hips and thighs.

4. Hypothyroidism: If your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone, you’re probably feeling tired, weak, cold, and gaining weight. Without enough thyroid hormone, the metabolism slows, making weight gain more likely. Even a thyroid functioning at the lower end of the normal range might cause weight gain. Treating hypothyroidism with medication may reverse some of the weight gain.

5. Cushing’s Syndrome: Weight gain is a common symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, a condition in which you are exposed to too much of the hormone cortisol, which in turn causes weight gain and other abnormalities. Cushing’s syndrome can occur if you take steroids for asthma, arthritis, or lupus. It can also occur when your adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone, or be related to a tumor. The weight gain may be most prominent around the face, neck or upper back, or waist.

6. Quitting Smoking: On average, people who stop smoking gain less than 10 pounds.

7. Antidepressants: An unfortunate side effect from some antidepressants is weight gain. Talk to your doctor about making changes to your treatment plan if you think your antidepressant is causing weight gain. But never stop or change your medication on your own. Realize that some people experience weight gain after beginning drug treatment simply because they’re feeling better, which leads to a better appetite. Also, depression itself can cause changes in weight.

8. Steroids: Anti-inflammatory steroid medications are notorious for causing weight gain. Fluid retention and increased appetite are the main reasons. Although weight gain is common, the severity of this side effect depends on the strength of the dose and length of time on the drug. Some people may also see a temporary redistribution of fat while taking the drug — to places like the face, back of the neck, or the abdomen.

If you are gaining weight … Don’t stop taking any medications without first consulting your doctor. Recognize the importance of the drug you’re taking. It may be critical to your health.

Under the direction of Vesna V. Skul, MD, FACP, Medical Director at Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine, the FirstLine Therapy (FLT) program addresses all these issues and helps get you body back on track. During the FLT program, you will be taught stress management skills, learn what to eat and not to eat, have your “body composition” assessed — the measurement of body fat in relation to lean body mass, and much more.

Dr. Skul has spoken on a wide range of topics to professional and lay audiences around the country. Her areas of expertise within women’s health include menopause management and integration of alternative and complementary medicine into mainstream medical practice.

Recognized by her peers, Dr. Skul has been among Chicago’s top doctors as reported by Chicago Magazine, for nearly a decade. She was also nationally ranked in 11 specialties by U.S. News. Dr. Skul was listed in U.S. News Top Doctors – the top 1% in the nation in his or her specialty.

She is a founder and the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine, a multispecialty holistic medical practice for women, where she enjoys empowering her many patients through education and teaches medical students and residents.

For more information on women’s health issues, contact Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150, or visit their website at www.ccwm.com