Could Lack Of Sleep Be The Real Reason You Are Overeating?

Wanting to raid the fridge in the middle of the night
Wanting to raid the fridge in the middle of the night?

Have all the recent reports connecting sleep deprivation and weight gain keeping you worried? If you are wondering how sleep and weight could be connected, here is an article that will tell you exactly what you should know.

It is a fact that people who get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night tend to have lesser body fat. But don’t get me wrong; just enough sleep isn’t the only way to stay thin and fit. There are many other important things that play a role here, like your diet and your activity levels. But sleep is also one of the most integral reasons that define how fit and healthy you really are.

In a study done by NHANES I between 1982 and 1984, where 9,000 people took part, it was revealed that subjects who got less than 7 hours of sleep per day were 27% more likely to be overweight, as compared to their counterparts who got more sleep and had a similar lifestyle. However, those who got just 5 hours or less of sleep were 73% times more likely to be overweight.

So in a nutshell; yes, your habit of constantly scrimping on sleep to fit in more activities per day could very well be the reason you have constantly been piling on more kilos, even though your food habits might or might not have changed very much.  And it is definitely the reason why you want to raid the fridge at 2AM because you are ravenously hungry, often reaching for ‘comforting’ foods.

But here is what is surprising; most people who don’t get enough sleep don’t even know they are sleep deprived! So how can you know if you are getting enough sleep?

You are not getting enough sleep if….640_Sleep

–  You feel drowsy through most part of the day

–  You feel tired and fatigued when you get out of bed every morning, instead of feeling fresh and rejuvenated

– You fall asleep in less than a few minutes when you hit the bed at night

 

Most people who are not sleep deprived take a minimum of 15 minutes to fall asleep once they are in bed. But if you suffer from chronic sleepiness at work and find it very difficult to keep your eyes open post lunch, you are in the danger to gain more weight, along with other health issues that creep up from sleep deprivation.

What causes weight gain when you don’t get enough sleep?

Well, when you don’t sleep enough every day, there are hormonal disturbances in your body, which are actually what lead you to gain weight. Your body has very little ‘Leptin’ in it and has ‘Ghrelin’ in excess, both of which aren’t very good for your expanding waist line.

Leptin is a hormone that is basically connected with appetite regulation, healthy metabolism and burning of calories. It is Leptin that tells your brain when your tummy is full and commands the body to start burning calories to fuel energy. And Leptin levels increase in your body as you sleep, telling your brain you have enough energy and the body doesn’t need more calories.

When Leptin and Ghrelin are out of control, you tend to overeat because you are always hungry and feleing exhausted
When Leptin and Ghrelin are out of control, you tend to overeat because you are always feeling exhausted and hungry

So basically, when you don’t sleep enough, your Leptin reserves dwindle, and your body is tricked in to thinking it doesn’t have enough energy. This causes you to eat more, even when you don’t really need more calories, and then these calories get stored in your body as fat. The final results are that your appetite is more than it should be and your metabolism is way slower.

Now let’s understand what role Ghrelin plays in your body. The function of Ghrelin is the exact opposite of Leptin; it tells your body when to eat, when to start storing calories and keep more in reserve and when the body should stop burning calories. While you sleep, the levels of Ghrelin in the body reduce, because you don’t need any extra energy as you sleep. But when you don’t sleep enough, the levels of Ghrelin in your body start to rise, which only means that you feel more hungry and your body also doesn’t burn those calories because it is tricked in to thinking that there is a shortage. The result is the same – more calories stored as fats because they aren’t being burned to fuel energy.

If you find yourself reaching for a tub of icecream in the middle of the night, it is time you put some serious efforts in to creating a disciplined sleep pattern
If you find yourself reaching for a tub of icecream in the middle of the night, it is time you put some serious efforts in to creating a disciplined sleep pattern

To add to your woes, sleep deprivation also increases your resistance to insulin and gets stress hormones acting up, both of which also result in weight gain.

Tips to get more sleep:

So now that you know how bad sleep deprivation is for your figure, it is time you paid heed to people’s advice and get more sleep. Here are a few simple tips that can help you get enough sleep, so that your body and its hormones function normally.

Wake up fresh after a good night's sleep and you'll find a healthy breakfast is all you need to feel satiated and energized for the day
Wake up fresh after a good night’s sleep and you’ll find a healthy breakfast is all you need to feel satiated and energized for the day

1. Create a regular sleeping and waking pattern. People, who don’t have a set time to go to sleep or wake up, usually get lesser sleep. What you need is some discipline that ensures you get to bed at a set time every night.

2. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Don’t depend on afternoon naps for your body’s need for rest. In fact, do away with naps so that you can get an uninterrupted 7-8 hours of sleep at night.

3. A good way to feel more tired and sleep on time is to increase your activity levels. Go to the gym or try jogging, cycling or swimming. Never exercise within 3 hours of your bed time, as that can also keep you awake at night! Get your exercise done in the morning or in the early hours of evening, for best results.

4. It really helps to do something relaxing before you go to sleep. Have a warm bath, listen to some music, try breathing exercises etc…the key is to get your mind to brush away all worrisome thoughts of the day, and just relax so that you can drift off to sleep easily.

5. Don’t have caffeine a couple of hours before bedtime. In fact, it is a good idea to stay away from tea, coffee post your evening cup. If you must drink something hot at night, make it green tea, flavored tea or warm milk – any drink that is decaffeinated.

Just follow these simple tips and you will soon start to look forward to a full night of uninterrupted sleep, which also means a slimmer and healthier YOU!

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