The Connection Between Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain

by Tyler Moyer | | | 0 Comments

Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. This is true from the day we turn 18 almost up to retirement.

Even an hour of lost sleep can throw us off slightly and make functioning a bit harder. Losing sleep can also affect our immune systems, making us more likely to get sick.

Losing sleep can also affect our weight. Lack of sleep and weight gain are often connected, so if you're having trouble shedding those extra few pounds, you may need more sleep. We'll talk more about how this works below.

1. The Energy Problem

It's no mystery that sleep is a way to regain energy expended during the day. By extension, a lack of sleep means less energy the following day.

This plays into the way we make decisions. When we're low on energy, we tend to choose foods that will raise our energy levels and activities that will conserve them.

Think of that morning coffee that so many of us need. It's become a standard part of America's morning routine, and even the subject of many of its jokes.

However, that morning coffee is a sign of a wider trend. Our work week can be grueling.

We might grab something quick for dinner because we don't have time to cook. We may stay up a bit later to get things done, or just have time to ourselves. 

This causes us to get less sleep. After that, we have to wake up early in the morning with less energy to go to work, which requires more coffee, and the cycle starts again.

However, it doesn't have to be this way. Sometimes, something as small as having the right mattress can make all the difference.

2. Cortisol

Our metabolism plays a very interesting role in the relationship between a lack of sleep and weight gain. Our metabolism slows down, meaning that it's less likely to burn fat and more likely to store it.

This has to do with cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone with many functions. One function is to control our metabolism and blood sugar, but another is to respond to stress.

Less sleep often means more stress, which makes our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol's role in helping the body control blood sugar can make cells less responsive to insulin, which means higher blood sugar and higher potential for weight gain. This can also lead to diabetes.

Another unfortunate result of elevated cortisol levels is the potential for psychiatric issues such as anxiety and depression. Depression by itself can also lead to weight gain or worsen existing weight issues. Anxiety and depression can also cause or aggravate certain sleep disorders.

3. Leptin and Ghrelin

Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that play a role in how our metabolism functions. Leptin works as an appetite suppressant and helps us to use up energy.

Ghrelin is the exact opposite. It causes hunger and cravings. 

As you may have guessed, both of these hormones are affected by sleep deprivation. Levels of leptin tend to fall in those who lack sleep, while levels of ghrelin rise.

4. Naps

There are a few ways to combat sleep deprivation. Naps can help to a certain extent.

Taking a nap can help you recover some of your energy after a bad night, but it shouldn't be done regularly. Ideally, naps should be taken in the middle of the day in a dark and quiet room.

You shouldn't nap very often or for very long. A half-hour is good enough. You can nap for as much as 90 minutes if you have time. 

If you feel the need to nap frequently, it may be a sign of a medical issue. You may want to see a doctor.

In certain cases, naps can be the difference between life and death. Studies have suggested that driving while tired can be more dangerous than driving drunk. In situations like these, it may be best to pull off the road and get some shut-eye.

5. Treatment

If you have frequent nights where you can't sleep, it may be a sign of a sleep disorder. Insomnia is the most common, affecting about one out of every three Americans. Therapy and certain medications can help with insomnia.

If you often get a decent amount of sleep but wake up tired and achy anyways, you may have sleep apnea. if this is the case, it's best to see a doctor and talk about getting a CPAP machine.

There are many other sleep disorders, but most of them are far less common, and some can be treated with exercise and a healthy diet. If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, please see a doctor.

It's also important to note that certain mental health disorders can increase your chances of sleep disorders or even be the cause of them. Insomnia is a common symptom of many mental health issues.

Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain: How They're Linked

It's difficult to explain exactly how a lack of sleep and weight gain are related. It's like trying to explain why pulling on a single thread can cause a shirt to unravel. There are a lot of different factors that play into it, and each one builds on the others. 

The good news is that this works in reverse as well. Treating one issue may make it easier to deal with others.

If you want more information, advice, and products that aid belly sleepers, please visit our site. We can give you some advice about what to do after a night without sleep.

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