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March 17, 2008

Lack Of Sleep Can Contribute To Weight Gain

Topics: Health Issues

As pointed out in the February 2003 article, "Cellular Warriors at the Battle of the Bulge," investigations in molecular genetics have yielded a rush of information about molecular signals that regulate body weight. Some guide short-term decisions, such as whether to eat now or not, other molecules take a longer view, monitoring fat balance. One of the messages that came out of this work that is a concern to those who want to lose weight is that the body's weight-control systems have apparently been designed to protect more against weight loss than weight gain.

Fast forwarding to 2008, now we learn of new signals that regulate body weight - those affected by how much sleep we get. People who don't get enough sleep tend to weigh more and that sleep can affect levels of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin:

[...] Two out of three Americans are overweight, and almost one in five are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, while most people are aware of the relationship of diet and exercise to excess weight, few realize that the amount of sleep they get each night can also affect their weight.

[...] Researchers at the Sleep Disorders Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia conducted two studies, each included 1,000 men and women, and they found that those who reported sleeping less tended to weigh more.

... it could be that being overweight might make it harder to get a restful night sleep.

"People who are overweight may have less restful sleep due to heartburn, snoring or more serious sleep disorders like sleep apnea or night eating syndrome," said Dr. Michelle May, ...

But, she said, "It works both ways," and that a lack of sleep can affect your weight. Sleep deprivation affects your body chemistry, appetite and the choices that you make throughout the day, ....

Another recent study included 12 healthy men in their 20s. Each of the men slept only four hours for two nights. The study found that levels of leptin, a hormone that tells the brain it's time to stop eating because the stomach is full, decreased by 18 percent during the two-day study period. Levels of another hormone, ghrelin, which turns the hunger mechanism on, increased by 28 percent.

On average, the men reported that their hunger pangs increased by 24 percent.

"Hormones change with sleep loss and deprivation," said Strollo. "Sleep deprivation can affect appetite and also the type of food that one desires. .

May agreed, adding, "When you're tired, you're less resilient to stress and other common emotional triggers for eating. When you eat to help you cope with emotions, you're more likely to choose comfort foods like chocolate, ice cream or chips. And, since eating only helps temporarily, you may find yourself reaching for food again and again to try to make yourself feel better.

"Getting enough sleep is the best way to prevent sleep deprivation from contributing to weight gain," ...

Continue reading ...

Related: The appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin may help malnourished peritoneal-dialysis patients eat more

Cross posted from earlier post at New Hope Blog

Posted by Anonymous at March 17, 2008 4:08 PM

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