Many studies have been done linking sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality to excess weight and obesity. How have lack of sleep and poor sleep quality become risk factors for the development of obesity among people?
It has been scientifically proven that sleep plays an important role in modulating neuroendocrine functions and metabolizing glucose. Lack of sleep therefore affects these processes, resulting in decreased tolerance to glucose and sensitivity to insulin as well as increased hunger and appetite, which can make a person eat in excess especially at night.
The effect of sleep deprivation on weight has been observed not only in adults but also in children. Here’s a closer examination of the trend and how lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain.
Sleep apnea and obesity
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the body’s upper airways become blocked during sleep. This condition is often associated with overweight people. The reason behind this is that as a person gains weight, respiratory function may be affected, increasing the risk of and worsening sleep-disordered breathing.
An overweight person who has difficulty sleeping because of apnea may not have the energy in the daytime to exercise or the motivation to go on a diet. And with no exercise, persons with excess weight can become obese and experience greater difficulty sleeping at night because of apnea.
Sleep deprivation also affects the body’s other biological functions that can keep weight in check. It’s been found that lack of sleep can disrupt hormone levels and impair metabolism. Short sleepers – those who only got 6 hours or less of shut-eye every night – also experience hormonal changes that may impact future body weight.
Leptin, a hormone that contributes to the perception of satiety or fullness, decreases in people who are sleep deprived while ghrelin, a hormone that promotes hunger, increases. This abnormality in hormone levels can trigger a person to consume more food.
Without enough sleep, the body also has a reduced ability to process glucose in the blood, increasing a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What you can do
- Exercise regularly – Consistent exercise is important in improving sleep quality. Morning workouts are recommended to get your energy levels up. Avoid exercising at night because it can make falling asleep difficult.
- Make healthy food choices – It’s best to eliminate fast food and stick to eating more fruits, vegetables and fish. Avoid fatty and carbohydrate-rich food.
- Examine your lifestyle – Evaluate your daily schedule and see if you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Do you drink coffee or alcohol at night, which can keep you alert? Is your lifestyle too sedentary? If so, make some lifestyle changes that would allow you to do more physical activity. Consider what you do in a day and come up with a bedtime routine that will make drifting off to sleep easier at night.
If you don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night or wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry, you need to recognize this as a warning sign. Talk to your physician about how you can take steps to improve your sleep and keep obesity at bay.
Do you suffer from lack of adequate sleep?
Have you seen a change in your weight?
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