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Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain

Research is proving what doctors have suspected for years: sleep deprivation goes hand-in-hand with weight gain.

Americans take pride in their ability to get by on very little sleep. We boast about pulling all-nighters during college, either in preparation for a big test or while socializing. We brag about how little sleep we need, and how we get so much more done because we only sleep five or six hours a night. Sleep, the message seems to be, is for wimps.

Sleep, if science is to be believed, is also for the skinny. Research is proving what doctors have suspected for years: sleep deprivation goes hand-in-hand with weight gain.

Sleepless in Sackville

Sleep deprivation triggers some exciting changes in how our bodies react to food. Long story short, we eat more as we sleep less. It’s kind of like me going out to buy 2002 mustang parts without my wife’s calming influence; if I do, expect me to come back with enough parts to build a new car.

Same thing with sleep deprivation. When we don’t get enough sleep, our appetite-related hormones go a little wild. The body produces more ghrelin, which tells us when to eat. At the same time, levels of leptin drop. Leptin tells us when to stop eating. Too much ghrelin, coupled with too little leptin, usually results in me sitting in front of an empty doughnut box and discarded candy wrappers.

Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain

Sleepy Food Cravings

It gets worse. Guess what you crave when you’re tired? High-calorie foods with plenty of sugar.Hence the doughnut box.And the candy wrappers. And the super-sized frappuccino with enough calories to feed a family for four for a week.

How we behave when we’re tired also affects our eating. We need quick bursts of energy, so we reach for those aforementioned high-carb treats and caffeine, a stimulant that interferes with sleep if you consume too much late in the day. Y’know, when most of us could do with a shot of joe to get through the commute home.

We’re tired, so we skip exercising away some of those extra calories. Cooking a healthy meal at the end of the day seems overwhelming, so it’s a quick trip to the drive-through on the way home, where our ghrelin-addled appetites con us into super-sizing meals.

To top it all off, when people get tired, they get irritable and cranky, increasing the risk of bad moods. How many people do you know who eat to get over a bad feeling? I can think of one, and he’s currently typing this article.

Losing Weight with Sleep?

The relationship between sleep and weight gain has led to some odd ideas, such as the “sleep diet.” If you’re already getting your seven or eight hours of sleep, you probably won’t lose much weight. If, however, you’re operating on five or six hours of sleep, make an effort to get a full eight hours to help you drop a few pounds. If nothing else, you’ll feel better rested.

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Cheap Gym Accessories: Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain
Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain
Research is proving what doctors have suspected for years: sleep deprivation goes hand-in-hand with weight gain.
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