Too Little Sleep May Cause Weight Gain

Patient Expert

The link between not getting enough sleep and obesity

We are always in motion or at least it seems that way. The day has too few hours, the demands are excessive, the chores pile up, and we push ourselves forward believing we can make it right if we just keep going.

We get ourselves caffeine charged, wide-eyed and close to manic as we gulp more coffee, drink more Red Bull, and consume more energy drinks. We are high-powered go-getters, never-say-die-full-speed-ahead-marathon-runners. And in the end, we are just plain tired.

Three o'clock in the afternoon always  had been my hour of undoing, a midday reminder that I am flesh and blood and sometimes need a recharge. If I was going to get a reality check, it would be at three. The lunchtime boost was over, the dinnertime refuel hours away, and I floated between the two caught up in a daydream of pillows and sheets and blankets.

Ah yes, Dorothy nailed it. There's no place like home, and getting home would mean going straight to bed. Good night, don't bother me, see you in the morning. Except that seldom happened. Getting enough sleep was some wives' tale or an old and dusty myth, the same as Loch Ness and leprechauns. It just ain't real.

Well, that was then and this is now. The simple fact is that we need sleep. I do not press my limits anymore. When I am fatigued, I make sure to get my rest. Those who do not get enough sleep invite any number of problems, and among those problems is weight gain. Obesity has been an issue in my life, and I don't need a replay simply because I won't try to get to sleep when I am tired.

Sleepy people are evereaters

Studies have found that people who get too little sleep tend to overeat, as well as make poor food choices. One study found that the sleep deprived can eat as much as 500 additional calories per day.

The study was divided into two groups, one of which was woken after only two-thirds of their normal sleeping time. This group consumed about 549 more calories than the group that was allowed to sleep as much as they wanted. It was surmised that those who sleep poorly will be more susceptible to weight gain over an extended period.

The body repairs itself when we sleep, and many important functions occur including the release of physiological hormones. One of these hormones is leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone released by fat cells in the night. Leptin levels rose in the sleep deprived although the reason for this increase is speculative at present.

Sleep deprivation and weight gain

What is clear is that sleep deprivation and weight gain are interactive. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep might be important to how much we eat, how many calories we burn, and when we eat. Eating at the time when we should be sleeping may increase the possibility for weight gain. Previous studies have shown that shift workers who work at night and sleep in the day gain more weight than daytime workers.

Researchers state there will be additional studies so, until all the facts are in, get some sleep. It's good for you.