Research reveals that the number of hours slept has an influence on the risk of obesity. The less we sleep, the more at risk we are. This fact could explain why people who suffer from sleep apnea, a known thief of sleep, tend to gain weight at an above normal rate.
It's a known fact that obesity is a major factor in sleep apnea, and is often listed as one of the main causes. But that appears to be a two-way street. Once a person becomes a victim of sleep apnea, without very strict dietary control, even more pounds pile on.
Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation, and, of course, the more sleep deprived a person becomes, the less active he or she is. Less exercise causes weight gain, but is that the only reason we gain weight?
The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Obesity Research Center, suggests a link between the risk of being obese and the number of hours of sleep each night. Other factors, such as physical activity, age and depression, to name a few, made no difference to the weight gain.
It may all have to do with two hormone - leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and grehlin, a hormone that increases food intake and is thought to play a role in long-term regulation of body weight. Sleep deprivation lowers the levels of leptin and raises levels of grehlin.
How many more reasons do we need before we realize the importance of sleep in our lives. And yet, still we skimp, putting everything else in our lives first. Four hours sleep, five hours sleep, anything less than the seven (as the least) to nine hours sleep we need is asking for trouble. It could lead to a loss of physical and mental health, to poor memory, poor coordination, and now, to weight gain and obesity.
Another report, this one from Harvard Medical School's Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, tells us that it's not just adults who suffer from this problem. Dr. Elsie Taveras, lead author of a long-term study on the effects of diet and lifestyle on children, reports that infants and
Add to that the hours spent watching TV, on the computer or playing video games instead of spent in active play, and the incident of obesity is augmented. Many children have TVs and computers in the bedroom. This makes getting adequate sleep even more difficult. Dr. Taveras suggests removing these electronic sleep thieves from the bedroom to improve sleep and health.
Sleep deprivation in children can lead to obesity, and obesity can lead, in later life, to problems like asthma, type two diabetes and sleep apnea.
It's time we all wake up - No! Go to sleep for a healthier and slimmer population.
Published On: April 11, 2008