How Does Sleep Affect Your Weight?
When you think about all of the things that can impact weight gain, you may not think that sleep is one of them. However, there is a strong relationship between quality sleep and weight management. Sleep, and more importantly, sleep deprivation, can have a significant impact on weight and metabolism.
A study done in 2010 showed that people who get less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep tend to eat around an extra 300 calories of food a day. The additional calories resulted in lowered energy levels and an increase in weight gain.
So how exactly does the relationship between sleep and weight work?
Say hello to leptin. Leptin is a hormone that’s produced primarily by adipose cells and cells in the small intestines. Leptin is responsible for regulating energy levels within your body by inhibiting hunger. When leptin levels are balanced, it actually prevents excess fat tissues from being stored in adipose tissues. Leptin suppresses appetite by sending signals to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling hunger. When this occurs, the brain registers that the body is full and needs time to digest food, preventing overeating.
Okay, so if leptin is a key player in regulating hunger and metabolism, how does sleep affect it?
Creating Leptin Requires Energy
Producing enough leptin in the body takes time and energy, both of which are more difficult to expend when you’re awake and alert. You need time and energy to regulate other areas of the body when you’re awake. So, when can your body make leptin more effectively? When you’re asleep!
Among the hundreds of roles that sleep plays in the body, one of them is balancing energy levels. During sleep, leptin levels rise. This is partly in response to the ingestion of meals earlier on in the day. However, it’s also due, in part, to sleep’s impact on leptin production.
Certain proteins called neuropeptides are produced during sleep that help stimulate leptin production. When these neuropeptides are produced, the brain sends signals to areas of the body to stimulate leptin production, mainly adipose cells and cells in the small intestines. Because the body is in a relaxed state, it doesn’t need to expend energy on maintaining high neural activity in the brain or send signals to the muscles to contract when running that half-mile hike. Instead, that energy can be used to help create enough leptin to help regulate appetite and metabolism.
How Harmful is Sleep Deprivation?
So the real question here is, how much does sleep deprivation impact leptin production? The answer is quite a lot. Sleep deprivation and related conditions may alter how well leptin signals energy balance to the brain. Rather than accurately interpreting that the body has received a high enough caloric intake from food, sleep deprivation actually causes leptin to misinterpret when caloric intake is adequate for the body.
The result of this is an increase in appetite when you wake up and go about the day. In fact, it’s common for people who suffer from sleep deprivation conditions like insomnia to consume more calories than they need. This makes it more difficult for them to lose weight at a steady pace.
But if your body doesn’t need the extra calories, why do you still feel hungry when you wake up after a bad night’s rest? Well, sleep deprivation doesn’t just affect how your brain interprets signals from leptin. It also impacts how much leptin gets produced in your body. Lower leptin levels mean higher rates of hunger and subsequently, a higher caloric intake.
So What Can You Do?
Understanding the science behind sleep and weight management is only half the battle. Determining what you can do to lower sleep deprivation is the other half. You can try changing your sleep environment, eat foods that can help you feel sleepy, or you can give your brain some help with Well Rested. Well Rested is a sleep-aid formulated to help support insomnia relief! Visit our shop page and order your first bottle of Well Rested today!