What is the connection between lack of sleep and obesity?
The recommended amount of sleep per night is 7 to 9 hours; however, most Americans average somewhere around six hours. Researchers found that the further away one is from getting the recommended hours of sleep, the higher their risk of obesity is.
What is the scientific basis of sleep debt leading to obesity?
If one is lacking the optimal amount of sleep, their leptin levels drop. Leptin is a blood protein that suppresses appetite and affects how the brain registers when the body is full. Also, sleep deprivation raises levels of grehlin, which is a substance that increases one’s urge to eat. In short, if you sleep less number of hours, your leptin level falls, and grehlin goes up, resulting in overeating and weight gain.
What is the result of obesity on sleep loss?
Fat accumulation in the throat and neck cause obstruction of airways during sleep leading to poor oxygenation of the lungs. This causes pathological snoring called sleep apnea. You wake up several hundred times during the night. You have day time drowsiness, and again another night of disturbed sleep. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnea.
If so, the obstructive sleep apnea leads to more sleep debts, more stress, and more leptin and grehlin problems, more weight gain in a vicious cycle.
So what is the solution?
1. If you snore a lot, get yourself checked for obstructive sleep apnea.
2. Work on weight loss.
3. Control stress and maintain better sleep hygiene
Naras Bhat MD