Welcome to Sleep Deprivation

Do you suffer from sleep deprivation?

Do you know anyone that gets 8 hours of sleep anymore?

Many years ago, people went to bed when the sun set and woke up at sunrise. They worked hard all day performing physical labor that exhausted them to the point that sleep came easily.

That may still be true in some rural areas, but that is not the case for most of us.

large majority of people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This lack of restful sleep, or sleep deprivation, has significant consequences for our weight loss efforts.

Research conducted in 2004, at the University of Chicago, indicates that even partial sleep deprivation changes the way circulating levels of hormones regulate hunger! This in turn causes an increase in appetite and a preference for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.

Study participants who slept only four hours each, for two nights, had an 18% decrease in leptin, and a 28% increase in ghrelin. What are leptin and ghrelin and why are they important to us?

Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure. It is produced by adipose tissue (i.e. FAT) and tells the brain when you’ve had enough to eat.

Ghrelin is the first circulating hormone and it’s function is to trigger hunger. Levels of ghrelin naturally increase before meals and decrease after meals. Ghrelin levels in the plasma of obese individuals have been found to be lower than in their lean peers.

Again, why is this important? Lack of sleep produces ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and also creates less leptin, whose job it is to suppress appetite.

Interestingly, this particular study consisted of healthy, young men, who when sleep deprived, reported a 24% increase in appetite, along with a strong desire for sweets, salty foods, and starchy foods.

An analysis of 10,000 adults between the ages of 32 and 49, conducted at the University of British Columbia, found that those who sleep less than seven hours each night are significantly more likely to be obese.

Most researchers agree that people need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. An individual’s increased risk for disease (colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, according to a Harvard-run Nurses’ Health Study) begins when people get less than 6-7 hours of sleep a night.

“Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body. This is the first major study to show that sleep is a major regulator of these two hormones (leptin and ghrelin) and to correlate the extent of the hormonal changes with the magnitude of hunger change.”

Dr. Eva Van Cauter of the University of Chicago

Did You Know?

In the past 40 years, adult Americans have reduced the amount of time they sleep by two hours each night!  As sleep time decreased, average weights increased.  

In 1960, only one in nine adults were obese compared to 2007, when the statistics jumped to nearly one in three!

Other Potential Dangers of Too Little Sleep

Lack of sleep not only affects our weight, memory, mood, and attention, but it also weakens our immune system, and zaps our physical strength. In addition, sleep deprivation interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize glucose! One study, as reported in Parade Magazine, determined that people who slept less than 6 hours a night were 4.5 times more likely to develop pre-diabetes!

Tips to Overcome Sleep Deprivation

  • Develop a routine, going to bed and waking at approximately the same time each day.
  • Drink tea prior to bedtime instead of alcohol.
  • Get regular exercise but don’t exercise later than two hours prior to bedtime.
  • Stay away from your cell phone and other forms of technology in the evening prior to going to bed.
  • Sleep in a cold room, but keep your feet warm.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Learn to eat healthy and follow quick weight loss tips to help you achieve your goal.

See Sadie Nardini’s Yoga for Sleep!