Sleep Disturbance and Weight Gain: Understanding the Connection

Of all the positive directions Americans are going in, getting enough good sleep isn’t one of them. The state of sleep in the United States continues to decline. In fact, nearly half of Americans admit that insufficient sleep impacts their daily activities at least one day a week.

Both the quality and quantity of sleep you get matters. Poor sleep not only leaves you foggy the next day, but over time it can contribute to weight gain. Here we explain the connection between the quality of your shuteye and weight gain.

Sleep and your body

When your head hits the pillow at night, the link between sleep and your body likely doesn’t cross your mind. Sleep regulates a wide variety of body processes. It regulates your hormones, brain chemicals, and metabolism to name a few. Disturbed sleep, whether due to a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, or your own subpar bedtime habits, throws your entire body out of whack and disrupts your body’s natural ability regulate important weight-related processes.

Sleep loss increases risk of obesity

It’s no longer a debate. We now know, through clinical data, that failing to get enough sleep raises your risk for weight gain. Several research groups have brought forth evidence of an independent link between poor shuteye and weight gain, including a large-scale study that involved over 7,000 adults. During the course of the study, participants who had poor sleep patterns were much more likely to gain weight than those who reported getting sufficient restorative sleep.

Insufficient sleep makes you hungrier

Getting restful sleep helps regulate the hunger-related hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone that tells your brain when to put down the fork, while ghrelin is responsible for stimulating hunger when your energy drops. When all is well, these hormones work together to prevent starvation and overeating.

However, insufficient sleep can disrupt appetite regulation. Studies show that the day after getting poor sleep, adults consume an average of nearly 400 more calories than they do following a night of restful sleep. If you’re regularly getting insufficient sleep, eating this many extra calories can easily add up to extra pounds.

Lack of sleep makes you crave unhealthy foods

Not only does getting lousy sleep make you eat more the next day, it also increases the likelihood that you’ll eat unhealthy foods, which is a double whammy. Research shows adults tend to reach for unhealthy, high-calorie junk food when they’re deprived of a good night’s sleep. What’s more, the excess fat and sugar commonly found in junk food interfere with sleep quality, so you can find yourself in a vicious cycle.  

Poor shuteye leads to unhealthy snacking

As if choosing unhealthy foods at your main meals isn’t bad enough, failing to get quality sleep increases cravings for unhealthy snacks between meals. Healthy snacking plays an important role in weight management. If you’re snacking on junk foods regularly, it’s only a matter of time before you notice the scale beginning to rise. Studies show that adults tend to choose healthy snacks when they’ve had a good night’s sleep, but not after being robbed of good sleep quality.  

A lousy night’s rest increases risk for insulin resistance

Insulin is a major energy-regulating hormone. It keeps your blood sugar levels stable and plays a role in how your body uses energy. When things go awry, your cells can become less sensitive to this hormone, causing both blood sugar and your weight to rise. You may be surprised to know that missing out on as little as 30 minutes of sleep each night raises your risk for insulin resistance. This is another yet another link to sleep and weight gain for you to be aware of.

Here at Wellness at Century City, Dr. Cho helps patients lose weight and improve their health through safe and effective treatments. She can help identify any underlying causes of weight gain, such as sleep or hormonal disorders.

Regardless of how much weight you have to lose, Dr. Cho can help you reach your goals. Call our office in Los Angeles or book online to schedule your first consultation.  

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