program which would improve both their weight and sleep apnea. Unfortunately, losing a significant amount of weight in a healthy manner can be very difficult, so Richard Simon, MD recommends treating sleep apnea first: "Unfortunately, we do not have great treatments for obesity that have long term success rates of much greater than 5–10%," Simon says. "Thus I prefer to start therapy with [continue positive airway pressure] (70% success rate) and then add exercise (probably less than a 50% success rate). People feel restored when they are effectively treated for sleep apnea and are more willing to start exercising then."
Sleep deprivation may also inhibit one’s ability to lose weight – even while exercising and eating well! A 1999 study at the University of Chicago showed that restricting sleep to just 4 hours per night for a week brought healthy young adults to the point that some had the glucose and insulin characteristics of diabetics. Such sleep restriction may have been a bit extreme, but it is also not altogether uncommon in our society and is a pattern deemed the "royal route to obesity" by Eve Van Cauter, PhD, who conducted the Chicago study.
Though research shows that exercise is certainly good for one’s body and health, properly timing exercise is necessary to maximize the beneficial effects. For example, a good workout can make you more alert, speed up your metabolism and energize you for the day ahead, but exercise right before bedtime can lead to a poor night’s sleep. All the jumping jacks in the world won’t make up for a night of tossing and turning! Sleep experts recommend exercising at least three hours before bedtime, and the best time is usually late afternoon. Exercising at this time is beneficial because body temperature is related to sleep. Body temperatures rise during exercise and take as long as 6 hours to begin to drop. Because cooler body temperatures are associated with sleep onset, it’s important to allow the body time to cool off before sleep.