Effects of Sleep Deprivation Linked to Obesity

by ProfKeith

I’ve talked extensively about the effects of sleep deprivation (you can read those articles here and here). Sleep is one of the most underappreciated ways to guard your health against disease.

Research now confirms that getting enough sleep is key to maintaining a healthy bodyweight. Without it, your risk of obesity is higher and your chances of losing weight are lower.

The Obesity Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 65% of people in the United States are overweight or obese. The rate of people who also report sleep deprivation (less than six hours per night) is 28% and climbing.

A direct connection between weight and sleep is the level of energy you have (or don’t) with sleep deprivation. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published the results of Pennsylvania State University’s review of fifteen years of research on sleep deprivation and obesity.

The team created tables comparing specifics about study participants and included food intake, lifestyle, the amount of energy they used, as well as the measurement of hormones known to influence weight loss and weight gain.

There was a direct correlation between lack of sleep and the production of two hormones – ghrelin (the “hunger” hormone) and leptin (the “you’re full, stop eating” hormone). People who are sleep deprived produce more ghrelin and not enough leptin.

The hormone imbalances shown in sleep-deprived study participants coincided with substantially lower energy levels than those who received adequate sleep.

The results of Pennsylvania State’s review were further backed up by a study published in the medical journal Obesity which found that the more sleep deprived you are, the more calories you’re likely to consume the following day.

The Swedish researchers from Uppsala University confirmed that lack of sleep causes the body to produce more ghrelin. It also alters your memory skills, higher-level thinking, and mental clarity. This could affect impulse control while shopping for groceries, leading to high-calorie, sugar-laden selections in an effort to “boost” feelings of wakefulness.

Worse, according to a report released by the University of Chicago, prolonged sleep deprivation impairs your ability to process glucose. This could be another link in the diabetes epidemic affecting the Western world over the last three decades.

Further research could shed light on the relationship between the effects of sleep deprivation and the growing obesity problem.

effects-of-sleep-deprivation-infographic

Getting Enough Sleep Makes Sense

In the meantime, you already know how good sleep is for you. Yes, you do!

Gaining weight due to not getting the rest your body so desperately needs makes sense. If you’re perpetually exhausted, will you have the energy to exercise? Will you care about the foods going in your mouth? Unlikely.

Most people reach for comfort foods when tired because your body has difficulty determining the difference between “fatigue” and “hunger.” In other words, you might be eating when what you really need to be doing is sleeping!

Quick Tips for Healing Sleep

Here are a few quick tips for better sleep (and better health) that you can start doing right now!

  • Consume a healthy diet that gives your body premium fuel.
  • Add exercise – even 15 minutes of low impact – to your daily regimen.
  • Examine your “sleep routines” and make changes where necessary.

Boost your metabolism, control your body weight, fight aging, and feel better by giving your body no less than seven hours of sleep every night (eight is best).

Your mind and your body will thank you.

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