Our bodies are hardwired for sleep. Without sufficient sleep 3 key hormones directly related to weight are affected: human growth hormone (needed in the production of muscle building), leptin and ghrelin. These are not the only hormones triggered as a consequence of insufficient sleep.
Fear, anxiety, physical or emotional trauma, or overexertion create stress and induce the production of epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and cortisol … “the stress hormone.” Insufficient sleep also influence these same hormones.
As we age, hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and human growth begin to decline and so do levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine. Cortisol tends to increase with age and it takes longer to rid our bodies of any excess. Cortisol has anti-inflammatory properties; however elevated levels of cortisol can result in pro-inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, some cancers and diabetes.
Elevated cortisol levels are also associated with:
- Creating a catabolic effect on muscle … breaking the muscle down. As muscle deteriorates so does our ability to burn calories because muscle is the engine that drives our metabolism.
- The metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and has the dubious distinction of increasing our desire for sugary, fatty-type carbohydrate foods.
- Stimulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism for quick energy. This in turn raises blood sugar levels and stimulates insulin release.
- Increasing our appetite, contributing to overeating.
- Promoting the fat storage around the mid-section. Studies published in the Journal Psychosomatic Medicine clearly demonstrated that excess cortisol contributes to the deposition of this visceral fat. Think of belly fat as your built in stress meter and possibly your sleep meter.
- Contributing to obesity and is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
Another aspect to the sleep/obesity link is simply, when you sleep less, you are obviously up longer, and when you are up longer, you have more waking hours to eat and drink. So if you do not want to eat more, sleep more.
Researchers have shown that chronic sleep loss … getting less than 7 hours per night … can result in an extra 300 calories consumed each day … that could turn into a 2.5 pound weight gain monthly or 30 pounds over 12 months! A study, conducted by Arlet Nedeltcheva, MD, and colleagues at UC and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, found that adults who were allowed to sleep only 5.5 hours per night for two weeks indulged in more snacks than their counterparts who enjoyed 8.5 hours of sleep each night. These snacks were not generally healthy.
Studies also show that we burn more calories during the REM stage of sleep. This is the stage of sleep that is disrupted by insufficient sleep.
People who are on a restricted calorie diet can lose the same amount of weight whether they sleep an average of 8.5 hours or 5.5 hours each night. However, those on 8.5 hours will lose much more fat, while those on 5.5 hours lose mainly muscle, instead of fat, according to an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers, from the University of Chicago emphasize that adequate sleep is a key contributor to managing body weight.
Research has also shown that even if a woman is successfully losing weight while only sleeping 5.5 hours per day, that she is losing lean muscle mass and feels constant hunger … a by-product is the shift in the ratio of the hormones leptin to grehlin. Sleep deprivation also results in an increase in appetite due to an imbalance of these hormones.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice.
Additional information; Type 2 Diabetes and insufficient sleep, Insufficient sleep could be contributing to your weight gain,
Sleep and sleep disorders at CDC, The National Sleep Foundation, 2011 Sleep in America Poll, The National Sleep Awareness Roundtable, National Sleep Foundation
Sources: National Sleep Foundation, Pediatrics– The official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/01/awakening.aspx, http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/, (Sleep Hygiene Tips adapted from the National Sleep Foundation), National Sleep Foundation, Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006., J. P. Després, “Is visceral obesity the cause of the metabolic syndrome?” Annals of Medicine, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 52–63, 2006. View at PubMed , http://informahealthcare.com, http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/