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  • Writer's pictureSleep Well Blog

Sleep and weight gain: A quick note on how sleep deprivation affects your waistline

Did you know that sleep deprivation and weight gain are related?

I bet that many people have never really considered the relationship between sleep and weight. Normally, when people are looking to lose weight, they look at how they can eat better and think about hitting the gym. They don't necessarily consider the effects of a lack of sleep on their appetite.

It is, however, something that they should consider, and this is confirmed by research... and experience (do I ever get the munchies when I am not sleeping well!).

So, exactly how does sleep influence your weight?

It has to do with appetite regulation. I won't get into too much detail on the science behind it; however, let's just say that your hypothalamus (For more on the hypothalamus: -- specifically, the arcuate nucleus -- has two neuronal circuits. One stimulates your appetite and the other inhibits it. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that influence these circuits and, consequently, your appetite.

Leptin promotes satiety, a feeling of fullness, and is secreted by adipose tissue (aka fat). It is your appetite-inhibiting hormone. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is your appetite-inducing hormone and is pretty much released from the stomach. When ghrelin is at play, you get the munchies.

When you get enough sleep, leptin levels increase at night. Although ghrelin inceases at night as well, ghrelin levels drop after you have been asleep for about half of the evening.

However, when you don't get enough sleep, there is an increase in ghrelin and a decrease in leptin. Research on the interplay among sleep, leptin, ghrelin, and food intake indicates that how long you sleep for plays a role in the regulation of these two hormones, which then influences how hungry you get and is even associated with poorer eating habits.

So, imagine how you are doing yourself a disservice if you are about to start eating well and working out, but you aren't sleeping well. It makes your change in lifestyle that much harder.

So, if you find yourself snacking, adding extra seasoning, eating at odd times, and making poorer choices, such as going for chips over veggies, consider your sleep.

In another post, I'll talk more about the relationship between sleep and obesity.

That's all for now and, until then, sleep well!


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