Sleep and weight gain: why sleeping well is good for your figure
The alarming impact of sleep deprivation is so profound that it also affects the dial on our scales. Every part of our body suffers when we do not get enough sleep. Our ability to assimilate sugars is impaired, but above all, when we sleep less, we eat more and expend less energy. Weight gain is inevitable.
Decades of study
Sleep is the foundation upon which our entire health rests. More than twenty large-scale epidemiological studies have followed millions of people over decades. Their conclusion is clear and unanimous: the less you sleep, the shorter your life.
All of our major physiological systems pay the price for a lack of sleep: cardiovascular, immune, reproductive, and…metabolic.
The precise mechanism by which sleep deprivation leads to diabetes and obesity is now well known.
The forces at play in your body
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night increases the risk of weight gain. Many forces contribute to increasing your waistline:
Hormones that control appetite
Ghrelin and leptin both trigger hunger and satiety (controlling the state of feeling full). If one of the two hormones is out of balance in the wrong direction, you will tend to eat more. If both are disturbed, you are more than likely to gain weight.
However, a study by Belgian professor Eva Van Cauter published in 2004 shows that sleep deprivation strongly and rapidly increases appetite. Two bad nights are enough to feel uncontrolled hunger.
With the concentration of the satiety hormone having decreased and that of the hunger hormone having increased, even food is no longer satisfying. You still have an appetite; you eat more, and you gain weight.
4 to 7 kg per year
Doctor Van Cauter carried out an additional study to demonstrate the link between increased appetite resulting from poor sleep and weight gain. Once again, his findings remind us that we should pay more attention to our sleep hygiene.
In the event we get less sleep (5 to 6 hours per night), we eat on average 300 calories more per day than if we slept 8 hours. Over the course of a year, this represents a surplus of 70,000 calories. This amounts to gaining 4.5 to 7 kg per year.
Craving for sweets
As we have just seen, the less we sleep, the hungrier we are. However, this is not the only way our appetite is distorted as our diet also tends to change. Our craving for sweets and foods rich in carbohydrates increases by 30 to 40%, again according to studies by Dr. Van Cauter.
Could it be a lack of energy that pushes us towards fast sugars?
Lack of exercise due to lack of sleep
Weight gain from lack of sleep is not just the result of consuming too many calories. When we sleep less, we feel less energetic, we have less desire to exert ourselves, we become inactive, and we exercise less.
To lose or not to lose the fat, the body chooses
If you are determined to lose weight and start a strict, low-calorie diet, the kilos you lose will not be the same depending on whether or not you get enough sleep.
The type of weight lost varies with the amount of sleep. If you sleep little, your body will be reluctant to get rid of fat and will deplete your muscle mass. The weight loss will be similar in quantity, but not in quality. Lack of sleep is the enemy of dieting.
Luckily, sleeping well isn’t hard work.
To sum up, sleep deprivation increases hunger and appetite, leads to greater consumption of sweets, breaks the urge to exercise and works against diets.
The good news is that just one night’s sleep can restore the metabolic system.
Sleep… and lose weight
It’s good to see those two words side by side, isn’t it? Did you know there is a direct link between the two?
Sleep helps you to stay slim and even lose weight if you are on a diet.
Find out how it works!