It is a fact that Americans and people around the world are sleeping less than they did just a decade ago. In fact, the trend seems to be getting worse. While most of us know that sleep deprivation can rob us of concentration and make us cranky, most do not realize that it can actually lead to weight gain.
Did you know that your hormones play a role in your weight loss and gain? The hormones called Ghrelin and Leptin are the hormones that can either cause you to gain or lose weight. Ghrelin stimulates your appetite while leptin helps to control your appetite. Leptin is your friend as it tells you when you are full.
Guess what happens to these hormones when you don't get enough shut eye? They are affected in a way that is disastrous to your waist line. When you don't get enough sleep your body responds by producing more appetite inducing Ghrelin hormone. This means that you will not only be tired, but have an increased appetite ast well.
Lack of sleep will make you feel tired and ravenous. This is a result of the decrease of amount of leptin in your system. This turns into a cylce that leads to the less sleep means the more apt you are to gain weight.
If the production of ghrelin and leptin aren't convincing, then consider this: there is a correlation between obesity and sleep deprivation according to researchers at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin. According to polls, 63% of Americans declare that they are not getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night. Amazingly, 65% of Americans are considered overweight or obese (Source: usatoday.com, 12/06/2004). Coincidence? Perhaps.
Now some people might be tempted to conclude that being up longer should mean that you are burning more calories. While this is true, the urge to snack and eat something during the hours that we should be in bed is greater because of the increased production of ghrelin. Plus, since we consume more due to decreased levels of leptin, the calories burned by being awake are more than replenished by the food we eat.
Plus, it is also true that we burn 60-65% of all calories while our bodies are at rest. That means that only 35% or so of all the calories we burn are the result of physical activity. While there are certainly exceptions to this, the fact remains that being awake does not translate into rapid calorie burning.
No, most of us do not believe that sleep deprivation has anything to do with our weight. But, with the majority of Americans overweight and with a growing amount of research illustrating the link between obesity and sleep deprivation, people should start making shut eye a priority.