Sleep And Weight Gain

Would you believe that there is a link between sleep deprivation and obesity?

How does sleep deprivation link to Obesity you ask?

Although there may be some obvious reasons, such as staying awake longer creating more opportunities for snacking or frequent midnight raids of the fridge leading to increased weight gain, another possible explanation has been identified. Evidence indicates sleep may be related to weight regulation, and losing too much sleep may lead to problems with this system.

Research studies initially highlighted a link between hours of sleep per night and overweight or obese individuals. More specifically, those who received less than 7 hours of sleep per night were more likely to be overweight or obese compared to people who slept more. Additional research studies have provided further information explaining an underlying mechanism of lack of sleep and weight gain or obesity, linking it to the regulation of hormones involved in appetite and eating.

For instance, research has shown sleep deprivation to increase ghrelin, which stimulates eating, and decrease leptin, which helps us know when well are satiated. So sleep deprivation may alter weight regulation hormones in ways that could lead to weight gain, even obesity, as well as insulin resistance. Essentially prolonged sleep deprivation could increase the risk for obesity and developing diabetes by altering the brain chemistry that underlies weight regulation.

There are many factors that contribute to poor sleep or sleep deprivation, such as illness, medications, the sleeping environment, work schedules, personal choice (e.g. staying up late to socialise, watch television or read), stress, sleep disorder and poor sleep hygiene. Lack of sleep can also lead to other issues such as reduced alertness, difficulties concentrating, poorer memory and judgement, mood changes, and loss of motivation.

If you are experiencing difficulty with sleeping and would like to learn more about sleep and how to improve your sleep hygiene, you can make an appointment with AARI Health Arena’s Psychologist, Sam Cole.

Samantha Cole


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