The link between sleep and weight gain
Wondering why you’re finding it hard to shift the extra few pounds you put on over the Easter holidays? It might not just be the number of Easter eggs you indulged in; it may be your sleep that needs addressing. There is a direct link between inadequate sleep and weight gain and while this is not the only factor at play in the fight against that muffin top, getting good sleep will help you in the fight against flab!
Can lack of sleep make you fat?
Poor eating habits and lack of exercise are often not the only key contributing factors to a child’s or adult’s weight. Several international studies in the last 20 years have linked the trend of a rise in adult and childhood obesity and the decrease in our sleep duration. In fact studies of more than 50,000 children support this link.
So what happens to us when we are tired that makes us more vulnerable to weight gain?
Research has shown how sleep impacts our hunger hormones. Not getting enough sleep creates an imbalance in the hormone that drives our appetite- ghrelin, and the hormone that tells us when we are full-leptin.
When we sleep well ghrelin levels are low giving us a normal appetite and leptin levels are high so when we eat we feels satisfied. The imbalance of these hormones means not only do we want to eat more often but after eating we don’t feel full.
Studies have also shown the type of food we crave alters when we are tried. Using MRI imaging researchers showed after a poor night’s sleep the part of the brain responsible for complex decision making is impaired, but the area that responds to rewards is heightened. This means high calorie foods such as burgers, pizzas and doughnuts become more desirable and are the foods we are more likely to choose when tired. In fact one study showed when sleeping less, individuals ate 300 calories more a day compared to what they ate when sleeping well.
Lack of sleep means we have less energy, are more likely to be lethargic and less inclined to exercise.
But the really great news is getting enough sleep will help keep our weight in check… even after one night of better sleep!