Post by Emily White
After listening to an incredible talk on sleep from the amazing Mikki Williden at the HPN conference last weekend, I was inspired to discuss the consequences of sleep deprivation on your waistline.
You may be eating well and exercising regularly, but if you aren’t getting sufficient sleep it can really affect your weight loss success. Ever had those days where you just can’t stop eating and don’t seem to ever get satisfied? Well lack of sleep could play an important role.
One study published in the Journal of Sleep Research looked at how sleep can affect important satiety hormones and therefore feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. The study found that a reduction of sleep duration to 4 hours for two consecutive nights could potentially result in decreased levels of circulating leptin and increased levels of ghrelin (1). Leptin is coined the ‘satiety hormone’ as it tells your body when you have eaten enough and ghrelin on the other hand is the hormone that tells you that you need to eat. Therefore when these hormones are out of whack, your body wants more food and is not as effective at telling you when you have had enough- you can imagine that this isn’t great for your waistline!
One study found that increased food intake during a period of insufficient sleep could in fact be a physiological adaptation to provide energy needed to maintain wakefulness, however the increased accessibility of food results in sleep deprived individuals over eating (2).
Another study found an association between irregular sleep pattern and weight gain over a three-year period. Potential reasons for this were thought that lack of sleep could result in a wide fluctuation of insulin levels among other metabolic dysfunction which, in turn could lead to weight gain (3). Another study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine Reviews has suggested that decreased sleep could result in impaired glucose metabolism, which then reduces sensitivity to insulin, increasing ones risk for type 2 diabetes (4).
So how do you know if you are getting enough sleep?
It varies from person to person, but in general most individuals are going to need between seven and nine hours a night. So instead of staying up late and night binge watching Game of Thrones, get into bed early. Your waistline might just thank you for it.
1. Schmid SM, Hallschmid M, Jauch-Chara K, Born JAN, Schultes B. A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. Journal of Sleep Research. 2008;17(3):331-4.
2. Markwald RR, Melanson EL, Smith MR, Higgins J, Perreault L, Eckel RH, et al. Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2013;110(14):5695-700.
3. Kobayashi D, Takahashi O, Shimbo T, Okubo T, Arioka H, Fukui T. High sleep duration variability is an independent risk factor for weight gain. Sleep and Breathing. 2013;17(1):167-72.
4. Knutson KL, Spiegel K, Penev P, Van Cauter E. The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2007;11(3):163-78.