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.
The balance of your hormones affects your weight. The most prevalent hormones that affect weight are two that stimulate and control your appetite. The Ghrelin hormone is pumping through your body when you feel hungry. The leptin hormone tells you that you are full and don't require additional food.
When you are deprived of sleep, researchers have found that the production of ghrelin and leptin are affected, and not in a good way! Researchers concluded that a sleep deficit leads to elevated levels of ghrelin in your system. So, when you are not getting enough sleep, your body actually responds by telling you that you are hungrier.
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.
Do you think the majority of Americans would agree that weight gain is a result of lack of sleep? Probably not. They need to look at the obesity and lack of sleep link and may make the connection. Getting quailty sleep on a daily basis should be at the top of your to-do list. Be wary of making this a New Year's resolution because you most likely will not get much sleep on New Year's Eve. If you are diligently following your diet and your belt still won't budge then focus on your sleep habits. More sleep will help you feel rejuvenated and lighter!
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Peter Kilpton runs a very interesting website at Regarding Sleep, it's one of the webs most up to date Sleep sites, their free newsletter is well worth signing up for too. If you want to read more Sleep articles go to: www.resleep.com/articles
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