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Does Lack of Sleep Make You Fat

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Does Lack of Sleep Make You Fat

When we think of weight loss, we usually think of it in terms of eating less and exercising more. But lack of sleep can also play havoc with your weight loss plans if you are not getting enough.

Most of us accept lack of sleep as pretty normal these days. We work long hours and try to fit more into our days than we ever did. When night time comes, there are TV programs and movies to watch, friends to catch up with on Facebook, or maybe we just need to get the regular chores done.

Another factor in our inability to get a good night's rest is the invention of electricity and the light bulb. Before the invention of the light bulb, we only had soft background light to work by, either a fire or a kerosene lamp. When darkness arrives, our pineal gland starts to secrete melatonin, the hormone which makes us feel sleepy. In days gone by our natural circadian rhythms, controlled by the pineal gland would naturally make us want to go to bed early and wake up early with the dawn and first light. Electricity today though provides us with lights, entertainment and stimulation that we never used to have.

Electricity also allows us to continue our love affair with computers, tablets, smart phones and electronic book readers. Many of us are up until all hours of the night reading, working, playing computer games or catching up on Facebook. These back lit devices suppress the production of melatonin which allows us to stay up too late, too often. If you do use electronic devices late at night, they should be turned off a minimum of half an hour before you want to go to sleep. If you like to read using an electronic book reader chose a Kindle which is not back lit and has the same page look as a normal book.

How sleep deprivation affects weight loss

Some of the latest research indicates that chronic sleep deprivation affects our metabolism and the way that our body stores and processes carbohydrates (sugars and starches), which will ultimately lead to weight gain. When we are sleep deprived, we make more of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin, which is made by cells found in the stomach. The increase in ghrelin causes our appetite to increase. We start to eat more and before you know it we are gaining weight. If you don't replenish your energy needs with 6-9 hours of restful sleep every night, your body will want pay back through making you eat extra calories. The problem with that is, more than likely you will not be craving carrots and broccoli.

As well as an increase in ghrelin, you also start to make less of the hormone leptin. Leptin is found in fat cells and it tells your brain that you have had enough to eat thereby suppressing your appetite. So it's a double whammy because you are made to feel hungrier so that you eat more and your brain is not getting the "full" signal.

Lack of sleep also affects your ability to lose weight in more obvious ways. When you are constantly tired, it is very hard to find the motivation to cook healthy meals rather than get take-aways. It is also much more difficult to stay motivated to keep up with an exercise program.

Making sure you get enough good quality sleep.


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