Sleep and Obesity

Posted on November 26, 2014

Thanks to the obesity epidemic, we've seen an explosion of research on the problem of excess weight and the physiological mechanisms of weight control. It has turned out that body weight balance is far from the simple arithmetic of "calories in" and "calories out". What has surprised many researchers, however, is the clear connection between gain in body weight and lack of sleep.

As with many other aspects of obesity, the connection between excess weight and inadequate sleep was clearly documented only recently. The most convincing evidence of this connection came from the study of nurses in the U.S. This study monitored various health and lifestyle parameters of approximately 7,000 health workers over a period of 16 years. It turned out that female nurses who regularly slept five hours or less per day were 32% more likely to put on additional 15kg or more over the study period. The effect of the lack of sleep on the weight gain was further confirmed by meta-analysis of multiple studies which altogether covered more than 600,000 people.

These studies, obviously, don't give a clue about the physiological mechanisms behind the observed weight gain. Further research, however, revealed two interesting phenomena. Firstly, it turned out that the lack of sleep at night leads to the imbalance of appetite-controlling hormones during the day. Sleep deprivation results in a substantial decrease of the level of leptin and serious increase of ghrelin. This, in turn, results in much stronger appetite and hunger, particularly in food cravings towards carbohydrate-laden foods.

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Category(s):Eating Disorders, Sleep Disorders

Source material from Brian Blogger