7 Scary Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Weight

Though not one to eat more when I am excited or when I am ticked off, I am a tired eater. My kids even know that when they see me standing in front of the pantry or opening the refrigerator door 5 times an hour, that I probably did not get much sleep the previous night. It has been particularly bad lately: a combination of stress, workload, parenting, and a husband who snores profusely.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, their most recent survey shows that we are averaging a half hour less than that, with a reported 6 hours and 31 minutes of sleep each night during the work week. Less than half of adults say they get a good night’s sleep during the work week.

If you want to stick to good eating habits, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is the cause of several food, calorie, and weight-related issues, such as:

  • How sleep deprivation impacts your weight 1 of 8
    The Impact of Sleep Deprivation
  • Hormonal changes 2 of 8
    Hormonal changes

    Lack of sleep was associated with increased levels of ghrelin, the hormone which increases appetite. It also leads to lower levels of leptin, the hormone that indicates when the body is satiated. Not such a great combination, is it?

    Source: The American Journal of Human Biology, American Heart Association

  • Fewer calories burned 3 of 8
    Burn fewer calories

    If we are consuming more calories when we are sleep deprived, then at least we are burning more calories in the time that we are awake, aren't we? Well, not so much. People who are sleep deprived do not necessarily burn more calories in the time that they are awake. Research shows that people who sleep less do not burn additional calories.

    Source: American Heart Association

  • Changes in the brain’s ability to make decisions 4 of 8
    Ability to make decisions

    MRI scans show that sleep deprivation disrupts brain activity by impairing the higher-order regions in the frontal lobe of the brain. Is it any surprise that this is the area of the brain where your brain decides whether to go for the apple or the apple pie?

    Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (1), American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2)

  • More cravings 5 of 8
    More cravings

    Studies show that people favor unhealthy snack and junk foods when they are sleep deprived. That frontal lobe activity, which gets altered under sleep deprivation, is what governs decision-making. On top of that, sleep deprivation also increases activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards.

    Night snackers beware. Your brain is getting the better of you.

    Source: University of California at Berkeley

  • More calories consumed 6 of 8
    More calories consumed

    If you are craving more and less able to refrain, it leads to more calories consumed, right? Right. In one sleep study, the group who slept for 80 minutes less consumed an average 549 additional calories each day.  If you multiply that by 7 days in a week, that makes for an extra pound worth of calories per week. So either sleep more, or hit that gym hard, folks.

    Source: American Heart Association, Uppsala University

  • More calories purchased 7 of 8
    More calories purchased

    They say you shouldn't go to the supermarket when you are already hungry. Well, you probably shouldn't go when you are tired either. People who were deprived sleep purchase more calories and grams of food in a mock supermarket. So we are not just eating more calories, we are buying more calories too.

    Source: Obesity

  • And the end result… 8 of 8
    Weight gain

    Given all of these factors, it should be no surprise that sleep deprivation leads to weight gain. Inadequate sleep is linked to obesity in children, which can persist into adulthood if not resolved. More than one in four kids who don't sleep enough may be overweight.

    Additionally, a study of twins who are genetically predisposed to a likelihood of obesity found that sleeping less at night may increase the likelihood of someone with genetic risks for obesity to become obese. On the other hand, getting enough sleep may suppress those genetic influences on body weight.

    So get good sleep!

    Source: The American Journal of Human Biology, American Academy of Sleep Medicine (1), American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2), University of Colorado at Boulder


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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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