Obesity & Weight Loss

The man holds his fat big belly with his hands

Obesity, Weight Loss and Difficulty Losing Weight

There are many ways that a lack of sleep can affect the body and studies have shown a connection between obesity and lack of sleep. It seems that as Americans report sleeping less, the average body mass index (BMI) increased. In fact, the CDC notes that 35% of Americans sleep 7 hours or less, while the recommended amount is between 7 and 9 hours.

Sleeping less than 7 hours is known as short sleep. According to a recent study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, short sleep was associated with obesity at a much higher rate than long sleep (7-10 hours). The study reviewed 12 previous studies that included a total of 154,936 participants. Conversely, getting enough sleep every night has been associated with a decreased risk of obesity and being an effective weight loss strategy.

At a glance, here are a few key ways that sleep affects body weight:

Sleep deprivation stimulates your appetite.

A systematic review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed 11 studies that evaluated the effects of partial sleep deprivation on energy intake and energy expenditure. They found that partial sleep deprivation caused an increase in energy intake with no change in energy expenditure. Simply stated, people who were partially sleep deprived increased their caloric consumption with no change in activity levels. Over time, this positive net energy balance can lead to weight gain. Although this is only one study, there are several studies that have reached similar conclusions regarding sleep deprivation and appetite stimulation.

Sleep deprivation increases the risk of metabolic dysregulation.

Metabolism is the chemical process of converting calories from food and drinks into energy that the body uses for a variety of life-sustaining activities. Some studies indicate that metabolism is directly affected by circadian rhythms and sleep, therefore disruption of sleep and/or the circadian rhythm can lead to metabolic dysregulation. Metabolic dysregulation occurs when there are changes in glucose usage and storage, sensitivity to insulin, and/or changes in lipid usage and storage. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Boulder Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory concluded that sleep problems such as insufficient sleep schedules, insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, shift work, and shift work disorder have been known to contribute to metabolic dysregulation.

Sleep deprivation decreases physical activity.

Sleep and physical activity are closely related to and affected by one another. For example, a lack of physical activity can lead to a decreased ability to sleep, while a lack of sleep can lead to a decreased ability to exercise. Although physical activity has been associated with improving sleep, participating in any type of physical activity is especially challenging when you are suffering from daytime fatigue. Even if one does participate in physical activity, a lack of sleep causes a decrease in reaction time, endurance, fine motor skills, problem solving skills, and muscle power. Of course, a decrease in physical activity can lead to an increase in weight.

A good night’s sleep is a key element of weight loss.

As you can see, sleep deprivation can make it easier to gain weight instead of losing it. The good news, however, is that getting enough sleep can reverse this process to regulate your appetite and metabolism, as well as increase your energy levels to help you be more physically active throughout the day. Since getting an adequate amount of sleep has also been associated with better decision making, sleeping enough can help you make healthier food choices to lose weight.

Ready to make a good night’s sleep part of your weight loss regime? Contact Doctor Dreamweaver to order your home sleep apnea test so you can sleep well and be well.

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