How Does Sleep Affect Your Weight?
When you consider the factors that impact our weight, sleep might not be among them. But research has suggested a relationship between how much rest we get and how many calories we consume on average.
A 2010 study 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.
This is due to a hormone called leptin — a hormone that regulates appetite and energy.
Sleep and Leptin
Leptin, a hormone that’s produced primarily by fat cells in adipose cells, is responsible for regulating the relationship between food and energy levels within your body. It tells the the hypothalamus — the part of the brain responsible for controlling hunger — when the body is hungry, and when it is full and needs time to digest food. In short, it keeps you from getting hungry when your body does not need the energy.
However, some studies have shown that when we do not get enough sleep, our bodies do not produce enough leptin, and thus the relationship between calorie needs and energy is disrupted. The same study showed that people who did not get adequate sleep produced more ghrelin, which can stimulate appetite.
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.
This can all lead to the body receiving signals to consume more calories than it needs, because hormonal communication around appetite is confused.