Sleeping Angels

How children's sleep affects their health and well being.

Learning how to shave on someone else's beard

No substitute for fewer calories in, more calories out

KJ wrote in response to a previous post about research which found that calories are burned off faster during REM sleep than while awake:

I am curious. Is it possible for a person to be put to sleep and nourished intravenously to lose weight?

How would I find out more info on this subject. How would I find a doctor who is qualified to help me with this. I don't want to have the surgeries. And I would be good with a 50 pound loss 100 pounds if possible.

Are there any such studies currently? How can I find out about any current weight loss studies?

I've never heard of that actually being done. I have a feeling that if someone were to try and lose 50-100 pounds that way, it would take a very long time, and be fraught with complications such as muscle loss, bone loss, pressure sores, infection risk, to name but a few. It's also worth pointing out that "sleep" under anesthesia is much different than the natural sleep our brains cycle into every day, and so it is not at all clear that the increased weight loss the researchers in this (very small) study found in REM sleep could be replicated in an artificial "sleep" induced by medication.

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Long story short, you're better off trying to lose weight the old fashioned way: fewer calories in, more calories out. If that isn't working, talking to your doctor about other options which have been succesfully used by MANY other people before you is probably the next step to take.  There's an old Hebrew saying about the merits of learning how to shave on someone else's beard so that you spare yourself the nicks while getting the hang of it.  When it comes to trying novel medical therapies, it's probably best not to be the first (or tenth, or hundredth) in line unless you have absolutely no choice, and to let the doctors figure out how to deal with unexpected complications in someone else.

I admire your courage in wanting to try new ways of overcoming what is clearly a longstanding and difficult struggle with your weight, and wish you much success.  Good luck!




Dennis Rosen, M.D.

Learn how to help your child get a great night’s sleep with my new book:

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Successful Sleep Strategies for Kids: Helping Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up With a Smile!



Dennis Rosen, M.D., is a pediatric sleep specialist who practices at Children's Hospital Boston.


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