Is Lack of Sleep Behind Your Weight Gain?« click for printable PDF version
A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides evidence that a lack of sleep can promote weight gain.
Apparently, there are two factors that tie lack of sleep to increased weight - increased hunger and a slower metabolism.
When we don't sleep right or sleep enough, our bodies spend more time in an "awake" state, meaning that we don't really shut down for the night like we should. In this state, the hormone balance in our bodies leaves us feeling more hungry during the day after.
On the other hand, we also feel more sluggish when we do finally rise out of bed, reflecting less energy and a lower metabolism rate. This means that we will be less effective in burning calories in the day ahead.
Increased hunger and lower metabolism are bad news for anyone trying to lose weight.
The latest study, led by Christian Benedict of Uppsala University in Sweden, put the study subjects through a series of sleep "conditions" -- curtailed sleep, no sleep, and normal sleep. During the study, food intake was tracked while changes in blood sugars, hormone levels and other indicators of their metabolic rate were recorded.
What they found was astonishing. Even a single night of missed sleep slowed metabolism in the next day, reducing energy expenditure for basic tasks like breathing and digestion by up to 20 percent, compared with the morning after a good night's sleep.
Exactly how a lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight has a lot to do with our nightly hormones. The key hormone is ghrelin. With a lack of sleep, our bodies end up with more ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone that tells you when to eat.
Couple the increased ghrelin and a reduced metabolism, we eat more with a slower metabolism - a great setup for weight gain and bad news for those wanting to lose weight.
Unfortunately, in this country, not getting enough sleep is almost a badge of honor - we even boast about pulling an all-nighter, or working late.
Oftentimes, our lack of sleep may be due to higher levels of stress (the all-time #2 weight loss killer - see prior article), but in all cases, getting less than 7-9 hours of sleep is not helping us live vibrant and healthy lives - at the normal weight we should easily be able to maintain.
Maintaining our weight without enough sleep is hard work. On those days, we're likely to skip breakfast, grab an extra coffee (with an extra donut?) at work, skip the gym and generally follow the leadings by the "hormone upset" in our bodies - all things that help us gain weight.
The good news is this - you are likely to lose weight if you shift from a 5-hour-per-night sleep pattern to one of 7 or 8 hours per night.
Getting enough sleep is not a weight loss solution - but not getting enough sleep is often a first step to unnecessary weight gain. Our experience with patients is that just 20 minutes per day of the specifically-designed relaxation therapy works wonders...
If you are already on the WeightWorks program, then please try to get your 7-8 hours of sleep per night - the Success Therapy sessions are the ideal way to relax your mind, remove stress and get a deep, sounds sleep! Be sure to use them when you can.
If you are not yet on the WeightWorks program and want to learn more about how we can help, please complete our online get-acquainted questionnaire. Enter the coupon code "ARTICLE50" and we will take 50% off the cost of an initial doctor consultation to review your situation, make suggestions and answer any questions you may have.
It's the best first step you'll ever take.
- - Yours in health, The Doctors of WeightWorks