Can Sleep Issues Cause Weight Gain?

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Sleeplessness and quality of sleep happen to be a prevalent issue in the 21st century. The fast-paced life has deprived many people of inevitable sleep hours. Similarly, weight gain and obesity is another dreaded problem of the modern era of fast food lovers. But did you know that there might be an interconnection between the two; yes you heard it right, sleep issues can cause weight gain.

We come across many success stories where CEOs and owners of startups and companies describe their tight routines and a busy schedule, sometimes also referred to as the 4 hours’ sleep schedule. This might have worked for a few but it isn’t a successful formula and sleeplessness can cause many problems; weight gain being the one not known to many.

Over the past few decades, the amount of time that people spend sleeping has steadily decreased, and so has the self-reported quality of that sleep. For almost the same period, the average body mass index (BMI) of people has also increased, reflecting a trend toward higher body weights and elevated rates of obesity. 

Over the past few decades, the amount of time that people spend sleeping has steadily decreased, and so has the self-reported quality of that sleep. For almost the same period, the average body mass index (BMI) of people has also increased, reflecting a trend toward higher body weights and elevated rates of obesity. 

This has led the researchers to hypothesize potential connections between weight and sleep. Various studies were done in this regard and it’s been suggested that restricted sleep and poor sleep quality can lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions. While a lot of research is needed to reveal the intricate details of sleep and body weight connection, we hereby look into some proven points of how sleeplessness causes weight gain. 

Sleeplessness Leads to An Increased Appetite

Researchers have agreed upon a connection between lack of sleep and increased appetite. According to them, the increase in appetite isn’t a matter of stomach grumbling but a complicated process controlled by neurotransmitters. These are chemical messengers that permit and regulate neurons (nerve cells) to communicate with one another for performing bodily functions.

Ghrelin and leptin, the two neurotransmitters that are thought to control appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger, and leptin contributes to feeling full. The levels of these neurotransmitters are regulated throughout the day as per requirement.

It’s been suggested that a lack of sleep affects the body’s regulation of these neurotransmitters. In a case study, individuals who got 4 hours of sleep showed increased ghrelin and decreased leptin levels compared to individuals who got 10 hours of sleep. This dysregulation of ghrelin and leptin leads to increased appetite and reduced feelings of fullness in sleep-deprived people opening the way to more calorie consumption and hence, weight gain.

How Does Sleep Affect Metabolism?

Metabolism is the conversion of consumed food into the energy needed to survive. All of our activities, from breathing to walking and exercising are a part of metabolism. Some physical activities like exercise can briefly increase metabolism rate, but sleep cannot. 

Sleep does not increase metabolism rate but several studies have shown that sleep deprivation commonly leads to metabolic dysregulation. Extra time spent awake may increase the opportunities to eat, and sleeping less can disrupt circadian rhythms, leading to weight gain.

How Is Sleep Related to Physical Activity?

Sleep deprivation also induces tiredness and laziness meaning less energy for exercise and physical activity. Hence, reduced quality of life makes sports and exercising difficult. This leads to missed exercising and physical activity opportunities and makes it more difficult for you to ward off those extra pounds.

Getting regular exercise improves sleep quality and is pertinent to overall body health. Engaging in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week can improve daytime concentration and decrease daytime sleepiness. Sleep deprivation disables us to perform any physical activity leading to weight gain and reduced quality of life. 

Sleep & Obesity

Sleeplessness and obesity go hand in hand. The connection between not getting enough sleep and an increased risk of obesity is well-established, an analysis of previous studies suggests that people getting less than 6 hours of sleep at night are more likely to be diagnosed as obese. Insufficient sleep is thought to induce metabolic irregularities and an increased craving for the intake of sweet, salty, fatty, and starchy foods.

Obese people trying weight loss plans must know that getting optimal sleep is an important part of a healthy weight loss plan. Research has shown that losing sleep while dieting can reduce the amount of weight loss and encourage overeating.

Researchers, for now, are not clear if less sleep is the cause of obesity or obesity is causing the participants to get less sleep, or perhaps a mix of both. Even research is needed in this regard, but experts encourage improving sleep quality when treating obesity in adults.

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