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Sleeping Less Makes You Fat

Sleeping Less Makes You Fat

Sleep deprivation can alter levels of the body’s ‘hungry’ and ‘full’ hormones….

We all know the fatigue that enshrouds a day after little sleep, and many of us power on with the help of sugary snacks and coffee. But research has shown that letting this habit become routine can contribute to weight gain, or at the very least, void your weight-loss efforts.

sleep deprivation make you fat Sleeping Less Makes You Fat

Lack of sleep changes your appetite

“We have very substantial research that shows if you shorten or disturb sleep, you increase your appetite for high-calorie dense foods,” says Charles Samuels, MD, medical director of the Center for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary, Alberta. “On a simplistic level, your appetite changes.”

Two hormones in your body are responsible for controlling appetite and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, causing you to eat; leptin suppresses appetite and stimulates energy expenditure.

In a brain that is not deprived of sleep, these two hormones are released alternatively to regulate normal feelings of hunger. But when the brain does not get enough rest, the levels of ghrelin and leptin begin to alter.

According to National Sleep Foundation spokesperson William Orr, PhD, president and CEO of the Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City:

“When sleep is restricted to four hours a night, ghrelin levels go up and leptin levels go down…

“So you have a greater amount of appetite and a greater amount of intake.”

Belly fat raises your diabetes risk

Those who are chronically sleep-deprived and consume more high-calorie foods are likely to put on the pounds around the belly. These types of fat deposits are related to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Dr. Samuels said:

“It’s known as visceral fat deposition, Sleep-deprived individuals’ ability to respond to a glucose load and release insulin is altered.”

In one oft-cited study, he adds, healthy people whose sleep was restricted for six nights showed impaired glucose tolerance – a prediabetic condition. When the participant were allowed to get enough sleep, around 9 hours a night, their glucose response returned to normal.

Because of this speedy recovery, there is not enough evidence to claim the lack of sleep could cause diabetes, however there is clearly a connection between then two.

At the very least, getting enough sleep can help regulate energy levels, eliminating the need to rely on sugar or carbs for a boost, whether you have diabetes or not.

sleep deprivation weight gain Sleeping Less Makes You Fat

If you sleep less, you may weigh more

Missing a night of sleep then dragging yourself through the day with sugar hits will not immediately mess up the body’s hunger hormones .But research suggests you may gain weight if sleep deprivation and overeating become routine. Orr explained:

“Individuals who are obese tend to sleep less…

“There’s been a marked increase in obesity over the last 10 years, and over the last 50 years, there’s been a marked reduction in average sleep time for the average American – which suggests a link between sleep, appetite regulation, and obesity.”

What might be more surprising is that these problems are still apparent in sleep deprived people who maintain healthy diets, suggesting that cheating sleep often is a practice with inevitable consequences.

Dr Samules explained:

“[If two women are the same age and weight, both eating healthy meals and walking five hours a week, but one isn’t losing weight] the first thing we’d ask is if she’s getting enough sleep…

“With weight control, we look at physical activity, movement, food intake, and recovery, and you have to focus on sleep and where it fits into this context. The fundamental foundation of recovery is sleep.”

Kids and teens also may have problems if they skimp on sleep. Studies have shown that short sleep time in children and adolescents is associated with being overweight. One recent study also suggests a possible link between decreased REM sleep and an increased risk of being overweight.

sleep apnea1 Sleeping Less Makes You Fat

Even if you’re sleeping, you may not be sleeping well

“There are no guarantees that sleeping more will translate into pounds lost,” says Orr. “But if you have chronic sleep deprivation or chronic fragmentation of sleep and you stop that habit or correct the problem so you sleep well, it will probably be easier to lose weight.”

People with obstructive sleep apnea or other chronic sleep disorders experience these problems, even if they spend enough time in bed, because their sleep is interrupted too frequently to reach deep, restorative levels.

To fight sleep-deprivation-related weight gain and help make weight loss easier, try the following:

  • Rest. “Get the sleep you need, end of story,” says Dr. Samuels. “People always want some magic answer beyond that, but you’ve got to get your sleep. My biggest issue is people who wake up at 4 to go to the gym. People should focus on sleep first, to get to their goal from the weight perspective.”
  • Work out early in the day. “Exercise can aid sleep, but not right before bedtime,” says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Jim White, RD, an American College of Sports Medicine-certified fitness instructor in Virginia Beach, Va. After working out, “adrenaline hormones and body temperature are up, which can keep you from falling asleep,” he says.
  • Eat right. “Protein is a critical factor for alertness, but people eat carbs when they’re tired,” says Dr. Samuels. “Instead, eat a handful of unsalted mixed nuts.” Whole grains with fiber are also good, says White. “Sugary foods will give you an instant energy buzz for 30 to 45 minutes, but you’ll see a big crash after that; whole grains will fuel you for a longer time.”
  • Avoid alcohol. Even if you think it relaxes you, don’t turn to alcohol to calm down in the evening. “People don’t realize that alcohol has nearly the same amount of calories per gram as fat,” says Dr. Samuels. “When men stop drinking, boy, do they lose weight fast.” Additionally, drinking alcohol close to bedtime can disrupt sleep: You may fall asleep more quickly after a few drinks, but you’ll likely wake up more frequently during the night, and research indicates you’ll get less REM sleep during the first half of the night.

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