We’ve all heard that overeating could lead to weight gain. But did you know that sleep deprivation can similarly affect your body? It’s true: people who get too little sleep have a higher risk of weight gain!
Disruptive sleep can negatively impact your self-control and willpower, making getting takeaway and skipping exercise tempting. Ultimately, you stay up late because you’re too full to sleep!
While it’s okay to experience this occasionally, failing to get enough shut-eye daily is troublesome. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is essential to your health and weight, as are diet and exercise.
In this article, we will discuss how poor sleep impacts your body weight.
The Link Between Insufficient Sleep and Weight Gain
Research shows that 34.8% of U.S. adults sleep less than seven hours. Over the years, the amount of time Americans sleep has steadily decreased, negatively impacting every facet of life. Besides unhealthy eating habits, our use of technology also puts us at risk.
Mobile phones and LED screens emit harmful radiations that disturb our circadian rhythm and affect our sleep. Thanks to EMF protection products that can minimize our exposure to these harmful radiations and foster healthy growth.
Let’s discuss in-depth how skimping sleep can affect your well-being, appetite, and weight:
Sleep Deprivation Increases Your Appetite
Lack of sleep lays the groundwork for poor decision-making. It dulls your brain’s activity in the frontal lobe, negatively impacting impulse control, sending all the wrong signals, and affecting appetite.
Two neurotransmitters, ghrelin and leptin, chemical messengers communicating with one another, are central to appetite. While ghrelin encourages feelings of hunger, leptin is responsible for the feeling of fullness. Thus, the neurotransmitters signal when to eat and stop, ensuring healthy consumption.
However, sleep deprivation reduces leptin levels by tricking the brain into thinking we need more energy. Additionally, what we eat can affect ghrelin levels, and consuming carbs and proteins can cause significant dips. The deregulation of neurotransmitters can lead to increased appetite and decreased feelings of fullness in sleep-deprived people.
Furthermore, research indicates that lack of sleep increases your affinity for high-calorie foods and carbohydrates, late-night snacking, and comfort foods like cakes, pizza, and burgers. Studies also suggest insufficient sleep negatively impacts the endocannabinoid (eCB) system and orexin, leading to increased appetite.
Lack of Sleep Can Disrupt Your Metabolism
Metabolism is a chemical process where the body converts food into energy. The activities we perform throughout the day, including exercising, impact our metabolism. But our body also burns calories while resting, called the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).
Interestingly, sleep duration can affect our RMR, reducing metabolism to 15%. According to a controlled study comprising 47 participants, sleep-deprived folks experience a significant decrease in their RMR.
Further research also reveals that insufficient sleep can disrupt the circadian rhythm, worsening oxidative stress, metabolism, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and, finally, causing weight gain.
Insufficient Sleep Decreases Physical Activity
Sleep and physical activity share an interrelationship- sleep deprivation can decrease physical activity, whereas insufficient exercise can worsen sleep.
Numerous studies show that a lack of sleep can result in less energy and daytime fatigue. It impacts your motivation to exercise, reaction time, muscular power, fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and endurance.
Furthermore, it makes exercising less safe and increases your risk of injury, particularly in sports and activities that require balance. On the contrary, regular exercise can decrease the time needed to fall asleep, enhance sleep quality, and improve well-being.
While brisk walking daily can boost sleep quantity and quality, engaging in intensity workouts can have a better impact. For instance, moderate-intensity or high-intensity activity for up to 75 minutes per week can increase daytime concentration while decreasing sleepiness.
Reduced Sleep Affects Our Emotions
Multiple studies analyzed brain scans to determine how sleep deprivation impacts the brain’s response to food or images. These researches offer us an in-depth look into how insufficient sleep affects the different parts of the brain and emotional regulation.
In one brain imaging study, researchers created two groups: normal sleep and sleep-deprived. The latter group did not receive any sleep throughout the day, whereas the former enjoyed a healthy night’s sleep. After this, they had to rate several images as “pleasant” or “neutral” while scientists tracked their brain activity using MRI scanning.
The study found that sleep-deprived participants were likelier to rate images as “pleasing.” The MRI scanning also revealed enhanced activation of the pleasure and reward parts of the brain. Furthermore, the research showed that sleep deprivation boosts the amygdala’s responsiveness to pleasing things, like eating sweets and skipping exercise.
The Connection between Sleep and Obesity
Lack of sleep can lead to increased appetite, metabolism irregularities, and reduced exercise, as discussed earlier. These activities result in an increased risk of obesity.
Since 1 in every 3 North Americans does not get enough sleep, insufficient sleep can significantly impact the obesity epidemic. Let’s explore the link between little sleep and increased weight below:
Numerous studies show a clear link between insufficient sleep and increased weight. The most compelling evidence comes from studies tracking the sleep habits of adolescents and children for longer periods alongside multiple factors.
For instance, an insightful study comprising over 8000 children found that participants that received fewer than ten and a half (10 and ½) hours of sleep experienced a 45% higher risk of childhood obesity. Another study revealed that insufficient sleep in children increased obesity risk in adulthood by 50%.
Many studies investigating adults’ sleep habits reveal a link between insufficient sleep and obesity. A longitudinal study comprising over 68,000 middle-aged American women found that women who slept fewer than five hours (5 ½) had a 15% higher risk of obesity.
Several others involving shorter longitudinal studies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada found that shorter sleep duration increased obesity risk.
The Good News: You Can Reverse the Effects of Poor Sleep
Here’s the thing: improving your sleep can reverse the impacts of sleep deprivation! Wondering how? Below are tips to help you get started:
- Follow a regular and consistent sleep routine, even on the weekends.
- Reduce exposure to artificial light, such as a TV, bedside lamp, and laptop.
- Create a sleeping environment by investing in a comfortable mattress and EMF protection blanket.
The Bottom Line
There is mounting evidence that failing to get the necessary sleep can result in obesity, among other unwanted physical and mental effects. If your weight loss journey has proved insufficient, it’s time to improve your sleep habits!
A healthy night’s sleep eases your weight loss journey and offers additional benefits. These include boosting alertness, improving mood, and enhancing the quality of life - even more reasons to get a good night’s sleep!