Weight and Sleep - What's the Connection?
Wouldn't it be nice if losing weight was as easy as taking a nap? Sadly this isn't the case, but some studies are showing that there is a link between weight and sleep. Many of the body's hormones are regulated while we sleep, and the amount and quality of the sleep can make a difference in some bodily functions, appetite included!
The hormones leptin and gherlin work together to regulate your appetite while you are awake. Gherlin is produced by the gastrointestinal tract, and it stimulates you to feel hungry when there are no more nutrients to be absorbed by digestion. Leptin signals your brain to feel full once you have consumed a sufficient amount of food. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can causes these hormones to fluctuate erratically, with leptin levels being too low and gherlin levels being too high. So after a night of poor sleep, you may find yourself hungry all day the next day without ever feeling satisfied by the food you are eating. It is in this way that not getting enough sleep can cause you to overeat.
One way that this weight and sleep connection can be seen is through a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (or more commonly just sleep apnea). People who suffer from this condition stop breathing while they sleep, sometimes for up to a minute, many times a night. While people who suffer from sleep apnea rarely actually wake up during these episodes, their sleep cycle becomes interrupted and their quality of sleep is very poor. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea report that no matter how much sleep they get, they are still tired. This can cause hormonal imbalances linked to an overactive appetite, causing already overweight and obese people to become more likely to suffer from this condition, making yet another link between weight and sleep.
It has been shown that people who maintain a healthy weight sleep better at night, and it seems to be a cycle. Being overweight causes poor sleep, which may cause overeating, which will cause you to be overweight. The best way to break the cycle is to make healthy decisions about your eating and lifestyle habits while you are awake, to ensure that while you are asleep your body is working to the best of its ability to keep you healthy.
If you are concerned about your sleep habits and how it is affecting your weight, consult with your health care provider. He or she will be able to give you more information about how to sleep better and manage your weight in a healthy, effective way.