The Sleep Factor: Understanding How Sleep Affects Your Weight
More Americans than ever are tipping the scales into obesity. As the pounds sneak up, desperate dieters seek quick fixes, often turning towards fad diets for a rapid remedy. But not only are these diets often temporary fixes (if they work), the issue may not even be related to diet habits in some cases. According to some research, both getting too little and too much sleep may wreak havoc on the metabolism, leading to fat retention.
Most people are now aware that eating too much of the wrong foods, especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to weight problems. Consuming large amounts of processed foods laden with sugar, chemical sweeteners, artery-clogging oils, and refined flour can easily create a state of imbalance in the body leading to obesity. However, the connection between sleep and fat is not so widely known or understood.
Triggering Hunger Hormones
A joint study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that participants who slept longer (8.5 hours each night) lost more fat and less muscle than others sleeping only for 5.5 hours each night. It appears as though it may be well worth it to adapt the farming schedule of early to bed and early to rise if you wish to be as healthy as possible.
In addition, the findings suggest that two hormones related to hunger – ghrelin and leptin – are negatively effected by lack of sleep. More time spent awake leads to increased levels of hunger, which leads to dysregulation in the hunger hormones – creating a perfect environment for obesity.
Too Much Sleep Could Make you Fat
How much sleep do you need, and when should you be sleeping? Not only could a lack of sleep lead to weight gain, but sleeping at the wrong times could also be a factor. A study that was featured in the journal Sleep found that young kids who went to bed late and slept late in the morning were more likely than those who went to bed early and got up early to gain weight. In addition, the children who stayed up late where also less physically active during the day than those that went to bed earlier. It appears as though a consistently early bed time may have something to do with the likelihood of becoming obese – although the reason for weight gain may not be directly related to sleeping itself.
Too Little Sleep Linked to Numerous Health Conditions
Waking up tired? When the body does’t get enough shut-eye, a number of serious health conditions can develop. Among these conditions are diabetes. A small study followed 7 volunteers who slept for 8.5 hours during 4 nights, and a month later slept for 4.5 hours each night. The study indicated, that after four nights of restricted sleep, participants’ stomachs did not respond to insulin well. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for blood sugar regulation. Improper blood sugar regulation leads to obesity and conditions such as diabetes.