Effect of Lack of Sleep on a Person’s Weight

Effect of Lack of Sleep on a Person’s Weight

How does lack of sleep affect our health? Experts agree that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night in order to perform well in everyday tasks and stay healthy. That means we get to sleep 33% of our life time. But we rarely think of it that much until we are unable to get the right amount of sleep and see the consequences on our health.

When we don’t get to sleep the needed number of hours per day, the time will come when it’s like having accumulated debt that we can’t repay. Most often, we are unable to sleep longer to make up for all the lost hours of sleep. Eventually, some people develop insomnia. How do you know you have insomnia? There are four symptoms associated with insomnia: difficulty falling asleep; waking up too early but can’t get back to sleep; frequent waking up; and waking up in the morning but not feeling refreshed.

Lack of Sleep and Being Overweight or Obese

According to research, failing to have enough hours of quality sleep is associated to certain health problems. One of which is the problem of being overweight and obese. Here are the reasons why this is so:

Lack of sleep causes the body to burn less calories.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that showed normal sleepers have 5% higher resting energy expenditure than those who lack sleep. Resting energy expenditure refers to the number of calories burned by a body at rest. So, normal sleepers burn 20% more calories after eating a meal than those who lack sleep.

Lack of sleep encourages late night snacking.

If you don’t sleep at night right away, you’re likely tempted to eat a snack. That is why some University of Pennsylvania researchers found that people who sleep from 4 am to 8 am gained more pounds than those who sleep from 11 pm to 8 am. Probing into the routines of sleep-restricted subjects showed that instead of sleeping, they ate 550 calories of food from 11 pm to 4 am. That translates to gaining over one pound per week.

Lack of sleep increases appetite.

People who get used to eating bigger portions of food overeat and gain weight. Experts tell us that people who lack sleep tend to go for bigger portions when eating their meals. This may be related to the release of hormones called cortisol. Lack of sleep tends to increase a person’s stress level, which in turn unleashes the stress hormone cortisol. More cortisol in the system increases a person’s appetite. In addition, stress appears to cause a change in food preferences – picking high fat or high sugar foods. This may be because of activation of an area in the brain called insular cortex, which promotes impulsiveness to eat high calorie foods.

According to statistics, sleep-deprived people are 27% more likely to be obese or overweight. So, it’s very important to have adequate good sleep every night. It helps you to regulate your hormones and appetite. Hence you eat less and keep your healthy weight.
Photo credit: Image by CollegeDegrees360 via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Categories: Health