Does Sleep Deprivation Cause You To Gain Weight?
Sleep deprivation and obesity are the two steadily rising epidemics that pervade modern society. Sleep health is often ignored as a vital part of a healthy lifestyle and short sleep duration is a novel risk factor that is more likely to lead to higher body mass indexes and raise concerns for health in general. Growing evidence from epidemiological studies points out that there exists a bidirectional link between short sleep duration and obesity.
WHAT IS SLEEP DEPRIVATION?
When an individual’s biological sleep need is not met, it leads to sleep deprivation. As per studies, adults should get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep for good health, and obtaining less than 7 hours of sleep is suggested to lead to sleep deprivation which has metabolic effects that predispose one to gain weight.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS ASSOCIATED WITH INCREASED GHRELIN & INCREASED CALORIC INTAKE
Leptin is a hormone released from adipose tissue, it acts on receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain where it promotes satiety by limiting food intake. Circulating levels of leptin are directly proportional to body fat mass. Ghrelin is released from the stomach and its function is to stimulate appetite. Circulating levels of ghrelin are associated with food intake. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased levels of leptin and increased levels of ghrelin. The decreased leptin and increased ghrelin will prompt increased caloric intake and weight gain.
Higher levels of ghrelin following sleep deprivation are associated with increased hunger, binge eating, and cravings, especially for foods dense in fats and carbs. The increased food intake owing to short sleep could be driven by a hedonic factor too. Since short sleepers spend more time awake, they find it more difficult to resist energy-rich food items in a busy life. Long-time sleep deprivation could lead to hypertension through raised blood pressure and increased salt retention. The delayed bedtime affects the total energy intake and postprandial satiation signals. This is the reason, that ghrelin (appetite-stimulating hormone) increases the meal initiation signal and the number of meals and the satiation signal gets suppressed. As per experimental studies, individuals who slept less than 7 hours per night were more likely to develop obesity than those who slept more.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION LEADS TO REDUCED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Sleepiness caused by insufficient sleep will lead to increased fatigue and increased sedentary behaviour which reduces exercise-related energy expenditure and makes weight maintenance a difficult task. Increased fatigue due to more time spent awake will lead to increased evening cortisol levels and decreased cerebral glucose utilization that over time could lead to insulin resistance. Sleep deprivation will affect the energy balance by decreasing both exercise and non-exercise energy expenditure.
REASONS FOR NOT GETTING PROPER SLEEP
- More evening and nighttime work can lead to the sacrifice of hours available for sleep. This will affect sleep time, duration of dark exposure, and the overall organization of circadian rhythms.
- Long time exposure to artificial light after sunset
- Reduced opportunity to be active and consume food during the natural light.
- People of lower socioeconomic status may work longer hours and do overnight shifts.
- Anxiety, stress, work obsession, and environmental factors can lead to delayed sleep onset and reduced sleep quality.
- Excessive blue light exposure, engaging in screen time or using a cell phone in bed.
- Drinking alcohol or wake-promoting beverages like coffee or energy drinks.
- Extracurricular activities after school, aspects of the physical environment like a pet in the bedroom, excessive noise, and temperature extremes.
- Night-time sports, extracurricular activities after school, and perception of sleep as a waste of time.
- Age, smoking status and using medication that may affect sleep.
SOME OF THE SUGGESTED REMEDIES FOR SLEEP DEPRIVATION
Sleep deprivation will predispose to weight gain through hyperphagia. Below are some of the suggested remedies for sleep deprivation.
- Try not to eat too late.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and limit screen time.
- Increase daylight exposure, and exercise regularly during the daytime.
- Practice meditation at the night, listen to relaxing music
- Reduce long daytime naps.
- Try to maintain a consistent sleep pattern.
- Make sure to use a good quality mattress, and pillows, and to keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Don’t have electric devices, such as a TV, or computer in the bedroom.
- Avoid having large meals and stimulating beverages like coffee.
- Use Melatonin, L-Theanine, or Magnesium supplement, all of which can improve mental relaxation and sleep time.