Studies over the past few years has found a direct link between getting restful sleep and losing weight. The studies found that the majority of people who are overweight or obese also sleep fewer hours than normally recommended. The research has shown that sleep deprivation may actually lead to weight gain.
Why Does Sleep Affect Weight?
When you’re asleep, your body uses the time to rebalance certain hormones in your body. If you don't get enough sleep, your body does not have the time to get rebalanced. This leaves your hormones out of balance. Now, having a bad night's sleep on occasion is not a big deal. The body will recover when you get a good night's sleep.
However, chronic sleep deprivation, like that caused by insomnia, can lead to ongoing hormone imbalances. That is what leads to weight gain and trouble losing weight.
What Hormones Are Affected By Sleep Deprivation?
There are four hormones that can get out of balance with sleep deprivation:
- Leptin comes from your fat cells. It helps to suppress hunger pangs. Lack of sleep causes leptin levels to lower, which increases hunger. It works in conjunction with ghrelin to balance hunger levels.
- Ghrelin comes from the stomach. It helps stimulate appetite. Lack of sleep causes ghrelin levels to go up, which, in turn, increases hunger levels.
- Growth hormones come from your pituitary gland. They help to stimulate cell regeneration, growth and reproduction. They also to increase your body's metabolism naturally. These hormones are produced at higher levels when you are asleep than when you are awake. Lack of sleep can cause levels to plummet.
- Cortisol comes from the adrenal gland. It helps break proteins down into glucose. Excessive amounts of cortisol cause too much protein to be converted, which drives up glucose levels in the blood. It will get stored as fat, leading to weight gain. Cortisol also interferes with your ability to build muscle. Your body naturally decreases cortisol levels while you sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, you will have excess cortisol in your blood.