How Sleep Loss Can Lead to Weight Gain
Improve memory, reduce stress, enrich creativity, sharpen attention, lengthen years of life... As if there weren't enough reasons to catch those Zzz's each night, sleep proves to have a large impact on weight!
Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain
The largest health problem in the U.S. continues to grow, as one out of every three Americans are considered overweight or obese, subsequently increasing the risk and diagnosis of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions. While such statistics are contributed to eating a poor diet and living a sedentary lifestyle, there is another lifestyle factor that should not be slept on...
The National Sleep Foundation encourages adults to sleep seven to nine hours per night, though the average American obtains an average of six, with research showing individuals who lose out on sleep are more likely to gain weight. Ultimately, the link between sleep deprivation and weight gain may be related to the following factors:
Unregulated Hunger Hormones
Sleep deprivation can disturb the efficiency of hunger hormones, also known as leptin and ghrelin. Working together to control appetite, ghrelin stimulates hunger while leptin helps to induce satiety. But if they become unregulated, leptin reduces and ghrelin increases, ultimately growing the risk of excessive food intake. In fact, research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition gathered that although individuals who are sleep deprived burn the same number of calories as people who are well-rested, they have a net gain of 385 calories per day! And considering it only takes 3,500 calories to gain one pound, it could take less than one month to gain three pounds, or 36 in just one year!
Following a restless night, you may ride the rollercoaster of emotions, waving the sensitivities of irritability, agitation, and sadness. While not all individuals resort to food, some individuals experiencing such feelings turn to food as a comfort mechanism. Simply stated, lack of sleep intensifies emotions which may trigger bouts of emotional eating. And unfortunately, foods desired and craved tend to be rich in carb and sugar.
When feeling tired and dealing with low energy, you run the risk of skipping out on a workout. Additionally, low energy levels may justify a high-sugar snack or caffeinated beverage for a quick "pick-me-up." And unfortunately, continuing or resorting back to a sedentary lifestyle, along with eating more, inevitably causes weight gain.
More Time Awake
There may be only so much you can take until you to no longer sleeplessly lie in your bed... And between the bouts of restlessness and frustration, you may be more likely to hop out of bed and into the kitchen.
Sleeping to Weight Loss
In addition to consuming a well-balanced diet and increasing physical activity levels, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following tips for good sleep hygiene:
1. Stick to a sleep schedule and stick to regular sleep and wake times, including on the weekends.
2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
3. Avoid daily naps if you have difficultly falling asleep at night.
4. Exercise on a day-to-day basis.
5. Evaluate your room by generating a cool climate, shutting off all lights, and turning off all noise distractions.
6. Sleep with a comfortable mattress and pillows, making sure it is free of any allergens and has not exceeded its life expectancy of nine to 10 years.
7. Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and limit it at night to keep circadian rhythms in check.
8. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the evening, as they can disrupt sleep and proper digestion. If you are to eat, avoid large meals for at least two to three hours leading up to bedtime and if you are still hungry, try one of these bedtime snacks.
9. Use your bed for sleep, keeping work materials, computers, etc. out of the sleeping environment.
10. Do not hesitate to speak to your primary care doctor or sleep specialist if still having difficulty falling asleep.