Being sleep deprived has become a common issue amongst many adults today, with the majority averaging less than seven hours each night. This results in diminished alertness, decreased productivity, and more cups than ever of caffeine being poured. Unfortunately, the negative impact of even a short span of sleep deprivation can affect a person’s physical health in a variety of ways, one of which is seeing the numbers on the scale creep up. Here are a few ways quality time with your pillow affects your weight.
A lack of sleep results in a hormonal imbalance within the body. There are two hormones in particular that are greatly affected: ghrelin and leptin. When you have received an adequate amount of sleep, your body produces more leptin, which is integral and helping it understand that it is time to stop eating. However, a lack of sleep results in an increased production of the ghrelin hormone, which sends messages to the body that it’s time to eat. By increasing the ghrelin over the leptin, you will naturally increase your caloric intake, resulting in a weight gain. If you have been sleep deprived and then increase your hours to the recommended amount, a weight loss will likely follow.
When you are under rested, your brain reacts differently to food than it does when you have had adequate sleep. High fat and high caloric junk foods are often responded to at a higher rate than healthy options, with cravings for this type of food increased substantially. Starchy dishes, highly processed foods, sweets, and other “comfort” foods are also eaten at higher rates on days after a short night’s rest than on days following a full night’s sleep. The body is in need of the energy that it failed to procure via sleep, so your cravings increase to fill that energy void. Unfortunately, the part of the brain that assists in making rational decisions, the prefrontal cortex, experiences a reduction in activity, making you less likely to resist the temptations surrounding less-than-healthy options. This leads you to reach for the quick-fix, which is often fleeting and creates a brief surge followed by a steep plunge.
When you are physically exhausted, the likelihood that you will stop by the gym on the way home from work or hit that yoga class is slim. Energy levels are already depleted and the last thing you feel like doing is depleting more with physical exertion. This not only includes scheduled fitness outings, but physical activity you might otherwise integrate into your daily routine such as taking stairs instead of an elevator or moving throughout the office during business hours. Increased physical activity can actually assist in getting better quality sleep and squashing cravings, so skipping this particular step in your day perpetuates the unhealthy cycle.
Work and School
Skipping sleep in exchange for more time spent on work projects or studies might seem like a badge of honor worth wearing, proving you are committed. However, not getting enough rest decreases your ability to focus, which in turn lowers your productivity, and increases your potential for mistakes. This results in taking longer to complete projects, keeping you working late into the night once again and reducing your ability to get your health back on track.
Focus on your well-being by getting an adequate amount of rest each night. Hit the pillow early to keep your body healthy and your weight maintained.