16 Jun 2019

Source: freepik.com
In today’s busy world, people are sacrificing a lot to accomplish everything they need to do – their social life, their health, but most of all, their sleep. In fact, about 30% of adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep a day. Since the 1980s, the percentage of adults getting less than six hours of sleep has increased by more than 30%. Another thing that has grown over time is the rate of obesity.
While these two things are not necessarily correlated, there are studies and research that suggest a relationship between the two, and mark poor sleep quality as one of the risk factors for weight gain. Here’s what you need to know.


Poor sleep and obesity

While people’s sleep requirements vary depending on their age and other characteristics, sleeping less than seven hours a night has been linked to weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI). A meta-analysis of sleep duration in adults and kids showed that sleep deprivation can be associated with the development of obesity in children (89%) and adults (55%).
Other relevant observational and even some experimental studies have also found that individuals who get less than five hours of sleep a day are at higher risk of gaining weight and developing obesity.

Poor sleep makes you hungry

Feeling hungry? You might just don’t get enough sleep. While this may look like a joke to you, many studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals are having an increased appetite.
The reason behind this might lie in two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. The first is released from fat cells and its tasks are to suppress hunger and let your brain know that your tummy is full. The other one is its “nemesis”. Ghrelin sends “hunger signals” to the brain. When you don’t get enough sleep, the body makes less leptin and more ghrelin, which makes you hungry and increases your appetite.

Inadequate sleep makes you crave more

Food cravings are among the worst enemies of maintaining a healthy weight, while sleep deprivation makes your food cravings even worse. The frontal lobe of your brain, which is in charge of self-control and decision-making gets slowed down by inadequate sleep making you unable to resist the unhealthy snacks. One study even found that insufficient sleep makes you want food that is higher in calories, fats, and carbs.

Lack of sleep tampers with your metabolism

The resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn when at rest) is affected by sex, age, muscle mass, weight, height, and, according to some research, the quality of sleep. The research shows that the rate is lowered by sleep deprivation, meaning that you spend fewer calories the fewer hours of sleep you get. It is also suggested that a lack of sleep causes muscle loss.

How can you turn things around?

Now that you are aware of the risks of sleep deprivation, you probably want to improve your sleep quality and sleep more.

  1. Identify the problem: Why are you not getting enough sleep? It could be that you are giving up on sleep willingly – in that case, you have the solution in your hands. The problem, of course, could be more serious. For example, you could suffer a sleep disorder. Look for signs that will indicate the type of disorder. Snoring and open mouth sleeping can be fixed with strips, chin straps, and similar tools. Insomnia, on the other hand, will require a more studious approach.
  2. Establish a bedtime routine: If you have trouble falling asleep a solid bedtime routine which can include exercising, hot baths, reading a book, and going to sleep at the same time every night can help.
  3. Change your lifestyle: Some habits can have a negative effect on the quality of your sleep. Too much caffeine, alcohol, being physically inactive during the day, and dealing with a lot of stress, are just a couple of them.



Getting enough quality shut-eye benefits you in numerous ways, and losing sleep can have many unpredictable health consequences. Sleeping more than eight hours is, therefore, in your best interest, not only when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, but when it comes to maintaining a healthy you as well.

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