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Sleep and the scale

Sleep and the scale

A good night’s sleep is one of the keys to good health—and may also be a key to maintaining a healthy weight. There are many studies which proves that people who get too little sleep have a higher risk of weight gain and obesity than people who get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

About 65% of Americans are now overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Does Sleep Affect Body Weight?

The studies show that there are several ways that chronic sleep deprivation might lead to weight gain, either by increasing how much food people eat or decreasing the energy that they burn.

Sleep deprivation could increase energy intake by:

  • Increasing hunger: Sleep deprivation may alter the hormones that control hunger by increasing levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and lowering levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin, with a corresponding increase in hunger and appetite—especially for foods rich in fat and carbohydrates. Leptin is associated with appetite control and ghrelin has been identified as an appetite stimulant.

Poor sleep and sleep deprivation may increase appetite. Because the psychological manifestations of fatigue, sleep and hunger are similar, as adults, we sometimes confuse them—we tend to eat when we’re actually sleepy, because we think fatigue is a sign of hunger.

  • Giving people more time to eat: People who sleep less each night may eat more than people who get a full night’s sleep simply because they have more waking time available.
  • Prompting people to choose less healthy diets:  One study of Japanese workers did find that workers who slept fewer than six hours a night were more likely to eat out, have irregular meal patterns, and snack than those who slept more than six hours.


Sleep deprivation could decrease energy expenditure by:

  • Decreasing physical activity: People who don’t get enough sleep are more tired during the day, and as a result may curb their physical activity.
  • Lowering body temperature: In laboratory experiments, people who are sleep-deprived tend to see a drop in their body temperatures. This drop, in turn, may lead to decreased energy expenditure.


In other studies researchers had found that not getting enough sleep hurts the ability of fat cells to respond to insulin efficiently. Fat cells safely store lipids. But when the cells fail to adequately respond to insulin, lipids can spill out into the bloodstream and surrounding tissue. This state of insulin resistance or “metabolic syndrome” is often a precursor to Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes, which contribute to weight gain. The study had shown that even the body’s fat cells need sleep in order to properly process insulin. The findings provide even more evidence that sleep is vital to our metabolisms.

Sleep deprivation has also been found to increase levels of stress hormones which contribute to weight gain.

If you’re genetically predisposed to be overweight, the amount of sleep you get each night could make a big difference in how influential those genes are, a new study suggests.


Solutions to improve your sleep:

Sometimes the best way to treat obesity can be to treat an underlying sleep problem.

–       Treat the sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea

–       Start getting consistent exercise, which will improve the quality of your sleep. Most experts, however, say to avoid exercising less than 3 hours before bedtime, because exercise is alerting and can make it harder to fall asleep.

–       Examine your sleep schedule. Set a consistent bedtime. Are you getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night? Do you wake up feeling refreshed or lethargic? Do you wake up frequently during the night? Are you underweight, overweight, or just right?

–       Lose weight will improve your sleep. Make healthy choices for your meals.

–       Limit caffeine or alcohol late in the day. Caffeine can keep you awake, and alcohol can disrupt the normal stages of your sleep.

–       Keep your bedroom neat, clean and cool.

–       Set aside your worries. Pray to God and ask Him to give you a good night sleep.

–       Do not make plans before bedtime.

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2013 by in diet, Health and tagged , , , , , , .

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March 2013
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