How Sleep Deprivation Influences Weight

Sleep deprivation and weight have a very strong correlation. It's especially important in today's world because most people are chronically overworked and don't rest nearly enough. In fact, if you routinely crawl in bed late and get up early, you are far more likely to become obese over time. It can become a vicious cycle unless you actively take steps to correct it.

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In a study that ended in 2006, researchers had followed a group of 70,000 women, (age 50 or older) over a 16-year period. The results of the study were conclusive. Women who got five hours or less sleep a night were at a higher risk to weigh more and to become obese.

In fact, women who only slept five hours a night compared to those women who got seven hours, were 32 percent more likely to gain 33 pounds or more, and 15 percent of these women became obese during the duration of the study.

The weight gain was attributed to the fact that these women seemed to center around activities that reduced their metabolic rate, which in turn caused them to gain weight. They were more likely to delegate activities, rather than to participate in the actual activities themselves.

The Connection Between Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain

As outrageous as the idea might sound, substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating associations between sleep and weight. Researchers now understand that how much you sleep and the quality of your sleep can determine the hormonal activities that are associated with your appetite.

Doctors now recognize that many hormones are affected by sleep. It wasn't until recently that appetite entered into the picture too. The association was discovered by the research that was done on the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Doctor’s suggest that both of these hormones influence appetite. How much or how little a person sleeps, affects the production of these hormones.

In fact, if you’ve ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full, then you know what I’m talking about. These experiences are the influence of leptin and ghrelin at work in your system!

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How Controlling Leptin and Ghrelin Can Help

Leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of ‘checks and balances’ system to control feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastro-intestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, signal’s the feeling of fullness. In other words, ghrelin causes you to eat while leptin tells you to stop eating.

In a properly functioning brain, both hormones are released interdependently on and off during a 24 hour cycle to regulate feelings of hunger. However, research shows that chronic sleep deprivation can influence and alter ghrelin and leptin levels.

When you don't get enough sleep, it drives levels of leptin down, which means you never feel satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you’ll be more likely to eat more of the wrong foods.

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How Sleep Deprivation Influences Weight

An occasional sleepless night shouldn't be a problem. However, if it happens over and over again, you could be headed for weight problems, especially if overeating and sleep deprivation become routine.

Considering the rise in obesity over the last decade combined with a sharp reduction in sleep times for most Americans over the last fifty years, there seems to be a valid association between sleep, obesity, and appetite regulation.

Moreover, watching what you eat may not necessarily be a solution. Many people with similar work schedules and diets, may have completely different results when it comes to weight, especially if one of the people isn't getting enough sleep.

Kids and teens also may also have problems if they cheat sleep. Studies have shown that children with shorter sleeping, mo matter the age, has a strong association with being overweight. There also seems to be a connection between decreased REM sleep and an increase in weight.

If you want to control your weight, you have to look at the big picture including physical activity, movement, food intake, and recovery. The fundamental foundation of successful recovery is sleep.

How to Counteract Sleep Deprivation

There are no guarantees that sleeping more will result in weight loss but it sure improves the odds. If you have chronic sleep deprivation or chronically disrupted sleep, correcting the problem may make it easier to lose weight.

  • Get the sleep your body craves first, then focus on other activities.

  • Exercise early in the day instead of late at night. Reason? After you work out, adrenaline hormones and temperature increase, which can keep you from falling asleep.

  • Eat more protein throughout the day but watch your intake later in the day. Why? Too much protein can increase alertness.

  • Skip the alcohol if sleep and weight are problems. Why? It's very high in calories plus it interferes with REM sleep. You may be able to fall asleep more easily after a few drinks, but you're also far more likely to wake up several times during the night. When people give up alcohol, weight falls off.

    Sleep deprivation goes well beyond weight problems. It can also lead to problems with family and friends. You can't make it up either by sleeping late on the weekends either. You have to make it routine to make it work well in your life!

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