Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain: Avoid This Catch-22

Jodi Davis

| 3 min read

How many times have you told a loved one to get a good night’s sleep? We do this because we know how important sleep is for our well being. A good night’s sleep not only improves our mood and energy levels, but it also helps us to maintain a healthy weight. Yes, it’s true that if you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, your sleep deprivation can actually cause you to gain weight.
Sleep deprivation actually doublesthe risk of obesity in both children and adults – and this is the reason why: Not getting enough sleep causes an imbalance in two hormones:ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us hungry, or increases the appetite. Leptin is the hormone that does just the opposite (decreases our hunger). When we don’t get enough sleep at night, our levels of ghrelin go up (so, weight gain; remember: G stands for gain and ghrelin), and our levels of leptin go down, or lower (making us hungrier). So, if a person is sleep-deprived, they tend to feel hungrier and eat more, thus resulting in weight gain. It’s as simple as that.
According to experts, adults are supposed to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. But remember that some adults may go to bed for the recommended 7-9 hours each night, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the person isn’t sleep-deprived.

Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Obese people often suffer from sleep apnea, which can cause them to wake up repeatedly during the night. This leads to poor qualitysleep. Sleep apnea is a common complaint among obese people and is a serious condition that can cause a person to stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep, and cause drowsiness during the day. Disrupted sleep can also result in headaches, depression, a loss of memory and lack of energy. Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to more serious problems like high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s almost as though poor quality sleep and obesity can create a catch-22: bad sleep may lead to weight gain, and weight gain can lead to bad sleep.

Sleep Apnea and Children

And with childhood obesity on the rise, sleep apnea is now a problem for our children, too (along with heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure). Sadly, obese children are as much at risk of developing sleep apnea as obese adults.
The best solution for sleep apnea and obesity is to focus on a healthier lifestyle consisting of better food choices and daily exercise. This really will help you lose the pounds. Even a ten-percent reduction in weight reduces the severity of sleep apnea by fifty percent! With improved nutrition and daily, brisk exercise (such as WALKING) you & your loved ones will finally get a good night’s sleep.

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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