How too little sleep could lead to weight gain

Sleeping could make you slim as well as serene

Sleep –  we love it here at Overland Park Boot Camp and especially at this time of year when we can bury right under the covers as it gets colder and colder outside.

But there’s another reason we should welcome the opportunity to lie down and give it big Zzzzzzzz’s too.

And it’s weight related…

According to Medical director David Rapoport of New York University the more sleep you get and the better quality, the less you’ll be tempted to snack next day. This is because sleep keeps our hormones leptin and ghrelin in balance.

Leptin is the hormone that tells our brain we’re full and don’t want any more to eat, thank you very much. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is a hormone which stimulates our appetite, making us do the opposite (ie eat).

Too little sleep and leptin levels go down while ghrelin levels rocket. This theory was backed up by a study at Stanford University which involved 1000 individuals. All were asked to record how long they slept on a nightly basis and what their weight was. Their ghrelin and leptin levels were then measured. The results? Those who slept for less than eight hours a night had higher ghrelin levels and reduced levels of leptin. They also had a higher body fat ratio. More conclusively, the fewer hours the individual slept through the night, the heavier they weighed.

Sleep apnea, however, is a different matter altogether. For although the individual may go to bed and fall asleep at midnight then wake at 8am, their quality of sleep may only be equivalent to four hours sleep a night due to the number of times they experience breathing difficulties through the night.

Doctors however say we shouldn’t cling to the sleep and hormone theory on its own. Instead we should bring into the equation other factors too such as our environments, stress levels, dietary habits and exercise habits. Our genetics too may play a part.

“One thing I have seen is that once a person is not as tired, they don’t need to rely on sweet foods and high carbohydrate snacks to keep them awake – and that automatically translates into eating fewer calories,” says Michael Breus of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine in Georgia.

And if you’re not already convinced of how good sleep is for keeping your weight levels down then consider that it reduces the stress hormone cortisol –  that great dumper of fat around our stomach area…

For more weight loss tips contact us here at Overland Park Boot Camp.


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