Ever notice how much easier it is to make bad choices when you’re sleep deprived?
More and more scientific research is being done on the effects of sleep deprivation on the human body.
We all know that not sleeping can lead to a lot of
different health complications. The truth is, a good portion of our country is tossing and turning every night.
What might not be as obvious is that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain. Skipping out on sleep now may create waistline challenges in the near future.
For the human body, a lack of sleep translates to a lack of energy. Dr. Susan Zafarlotfi at Hackensack University Medical Center states: “When you are sleep deprived and are running low on energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods.” Comfort foods are usually terrible for your health because they have a lot of fat and sugar.
This experience is more common than most would believe; the Center for Disease Control reported that 30 percent of adults in the United States are Sleep Deprived. That’s a good 95 million people, which is pretty hard to miss.
For those of us on a diet, a sleep deprived brain is our number one enemy. Those grease-soaked foods and sugar-coated candies are almost impossible to resist for someone who is tired because the brain is not functioning at its normal level. Not sleeping will significantly change your overall thought process—specifically memory, reaction time and decision making.
A sleep deprived person at a car lot is more likely to be coaxed into buying a car they don’t want, at a higher price. An active person is also much more likely to skip the gym when tired. It only takes two weeks of not exercising for your body to begin to change.
A dysfunctional metabolism is sleep deprivation’s right hand man. The three musketeers of hormones become imbalanced: ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol. Cortisol is secreted by the body when a person is stressed, but it also increases appetite. Ghrelin is the hormone that gives the body cues to feel hungry, and leptin makes one feel full. Levels of Ghrelin skyrocket while levels of leptin are depleted.
If that’s not bad enough, sleepless nights cause the human body to go into “survival mode” which slows down the metabolism to conserve resources. The combination of feeling hungrier and a slower metabolism is bad news for the waistline.
A 2007 research study on the effects of sleep loss was done by the University of Pennsylvania on 225 people. The people who slept for only four hours a night for five consecutive nights gained an average of two pounds more in a week than those who slept the normal seven to eight hours. For those of you who aren’t good at math, If we calculate 52 weeks in a year multiplied by two pounds per week, that’s 104 pounds in a year in weight gain! How would you look 104 pounds heavier? What would be the opinion of your significant other?
Sleep scientists say that the average person has about 16 hours of normal brain functioning until the brain needs to rest. After 16 hours, the brain becomes dysfunctional. A dysfunctional brain is not a brain you can do much with. At this point, sugar tends to remain in the blood stream and blood sugar levels become abnormally high. And that’s when you’re knocking on diabetes’ front door.
So for those of us who truly are “watching our figure” one of the best things to do is to get plenty of sleep. Exercise can be a sleep catalyst. It does more than just burn fat or build muscle; it can tire us out for good night’s sleep.
Author: Carlton Lewis
Image: elephant journal
Editors: Travis May; Ashleigh Hitchcock