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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Obesity-Sleep Connection

In general, over the last few decades people have been sleeping less and putting on more weight. Until recently, no connection has made between obesity and sleep deprivation because along with the increasing number of distractions that keep us up late, there has also been a decided increases in processed foods and lack of exercise, both  of which are contributing factors to obesity.

Recently however, scientific studies are beginning to appreciate and focus on the fact that sleep disruptions and deprivation do affect our body’s metabolism and incredibly we are hearing statements like ‘Lose weight while you sleep.’ from reliable sources! If sleeping off fat really works, it certainly sounds much better than dieting where often the lack of success is due to the fact that your body reacts to the ‘famine’ of restricted calory intake by storing fat and getting the energy that's needed by consuming your lean body mass.

The scientific literature is now reporting careful studies on fairly large groups of overweight people who are all restricted to a similar number of calories in their diet and who all get about the same amount of exercise but they are divided into two groups depending on how much sleep they get at night.  The results have consistently found that those who sleep around 7.5 or 8 hours a night lose weight - whereas those who sleep 6 hours or less do not. The reason turns out to be that the body needs enough uninterrupted sleep to rebuild and reset the level of two important hormones tied to your metabolism. The hormone  leptin's job is to send the signal to the brain when you’ve eaten enough and are full and its partner, the hormone ghrelin, stimulates the desire for food. The diagram on the right shows how a hormone that's excreted in one part of the system is transported in the blood stream to receptors in another.
The outcome of controlled studies show that those who regularly slept 6 hours or less at night had higher levels of ghrelin [hunger] and lower levels of leptin [full]. More striking was the finding that there was a direct relationship between the amount of time a person sleeps and the amount of fat they stored!  Consistently, the fewer hours of sleep they got, the more excess weight a person had!

However, the results of many studies were not quite as clear-cut as I’m reporting. In most cases where someone was claiming they slept for the required 7.5 or 8 hours but didn’t lose weight, it was often discovered that their sleep was disrupted in some way. Some proved to have sleep apnea, a condition they were unaware of where they stopped breathing for short periods 100 or more time during the night and so didn’t get the deep sleep they needed. 

Studies of the relationship between inadequate sleep and obesity can be affected by other circumstances as well.  Things like stress, social or psychological difficulties, depression, or illness that prevent a person from going to sleep and/or staying asleep are unfortunate and can be contributing factors to weight retention. In any of these circumstances or even if you just don’t tend to go to sleep when you do go to bed, it is strongly recommended that you  access studies on some natural behaviours that will improve the quality of sleep and increase the time when you are experiencing the deep sleep your body needs.  

The bottom line is already very clear: For every hour you cut back on your sleep, you pay the price of weight gain!   Rie

1 comment:

  1. I would like to ask you to share some links to other sources that open up this subject in case you know any.