Recently sleep came to the front line of the obesity epidemic as being a contributive key to overweight individuals. Researchers are searching for many different ways that we can stop this trend, and have those numbers go down for once. You can find many studies done that report a strong correlation to insufficient sleep leading to overweight individuals. Therefore, inadequate sleep and weight gain are closely related.
Sleep and weight loss
Some of the research indicates that getting just a few hours of sleep can cause havoc with your hormones that control appetite. The two main hormones that are associated with appetite are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is produced mainly in the stomach and one of its main functions is to stimulate appetite. Leptin is released by adipose tissue and is used to create a feeling of satiety. The purpose of these two hormones is to control appetite to try to achieve energy balance by matching energy burned and energy consumed. Many studies show that lack of adequate sleep will increase your levels of ghrelin and it will decrease your levels of leptin. Which means you will fell hungrier and most likely eat more throughout the day. One study even suggested that those who don’t get enough sleep choose energy dense foods like choclate and sweets more frequently than those who did have enough sleep.
For people who don’t get enough sleep they may wind up snacking more throughout the day just because they are tired. If you’re tired you may feel like you need to eat something to boost your energy back up. If you are consistenly having inadequate sleep you will find yourself more hungry and wanting to snack more to try to ward off the sleepiness. There is no substitute for sleep and while you feel you may not have the chance to sleep enough it is crucial that you try.
Recent research conducted with mice linked excessive light exposure to weight gain. The mice who were not given any time with lights out to sleep ended up gaining more weight, but they were gaining more weight from their eating patterns. The mice that had consistent light seemed to eat more than those who had time with lights off. When food supply was controlled there was not a major difference in weight gain between those with light all day and those with a day and night cycle. The study seemed to support that lack of quality sleep will affect your appetite and throughout the day.
Sleep not only can affect your weight, but it also can affect many other areas of your body. Most college students will pull “all nighters” a day before their big test simply because they believe staying up through the night and cramming will help them get a better grade on their exam. However, going into an exam sleep deprived may be worse than just studying a few hours and getting good sleep. Researchers believe that when you sleep your body will go through the day’s worth of information and get rid of the unimportant stuff and store the important information. You will also be more alert and be able to recall information better when you get enough sleep.
Adequate sleep has additionally been linked to a boosted immune system. It is believed that inadequate sleep causes some immune system components to mistakenly attack your own body. Natural killer cells which target tumors and virus infected cells are also greatly affected by sleep. Those who do not get enough sleep have decreased activity level of their natural killer cells. So if you want to stay clear of illness make sure you are getting enough sleep!
Now for the question you’re probably wondering, and that is how much sleep should you get? Researchers recommend that you get around 7-9 hours of sleep or as close to it as you can. There isn’t enough research that would suggest that napping throughout the day is just as beneficial as getting your 7-9 in one nights rest, but if that’s the only way you can get the sleep then definitely nap. If you have trouble sleeping at night try getting frequent exercise and create the best sleep environment possible by turning off the TV and getting rid of any sources of light.