Many studies have drawn a correlation between obesity and sleep deprivation. Why is it that people facing either of these conditions usually experience both, even if you feel that you’re getting enough sleep at night?

One reason for this connection is that sleep deprivation affects the regulation of appetite hormones namely Ghrelin and Leptin – which decrease the metabolism of an individual – making them hungry a lot more than usual. Hormones may also be affected due to sleep deprivation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who only spent four hours in bed for five consecutive nights gained almost two pounds more than those who were in bed for about 10 hours, over the course of a week.

Another reason may be that people who stay awake longer are exposed to a higher energy intake, for example through snacking. Endocrine Society’s national meeting suggested that getting just 30 fewer minutes sleep than you should per weekday can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes.

The Significance of Sleep

Janet K. Kennedy, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor says, “Sleep is important for pretty much every one of your physical systems, and so sleep deprivation leads to deficits in cognitive functioning, whether it’s reaction time, decision-making, or memory.”

Why Sleep Deprivation may Cause Weight Gain

“The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite,” says Breus. Often, that means craving foods that are unhealthy for the body. Lack of sleep, therefore, makes it harder for the body to digest high glucose intake. Sleep deprivation usually leads to stress, even if you think your mind is at peace. Your body needs to produce serotonin to calm you down and the easiest way to do that is by eating high-fat, high-carb foods that produce a neurochemical reaction.

“When you’re sleep deprived, the mitochondria in your cells that digest fuel start to shut down. Sugar remains in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar,” says Breus. Losing out on sleep can make fat cells 30 percent less able to deal with insulin, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Sleeplessness makes the body switch on its survival mode as it believes it’s in danger.

“Your metabolism slows because your body is trying to maintain its resources, and it also wants more fuel,” says Breus. “I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they’re ready to start a diet and lose weight,” says Breus.

Get rid of the weight gain by understanding your body

The way you experience weight gain may differ from person to person. So before you begin to rid yourself of the excess fat, you need to discover the body type you have.

The most commonly used measure to correlate weight and height is the body mass index (BMI). It attempts to estimate your relative body fat. A few extra pounds above your ideal body weight may have a negligible effect on your sleep. However, the more pounds you pack on, the greater the effects may be.

It is important to realize that sleep deprivation may not be the only complication you may face as a result of obesity. Other unexpected disorders such as chronic heart disease, uric acidity, restless leg syndrome or diabetes may all follow if you do not supervise your weight.

The complex relationship between sleep deprivation and obesity must be given the attention it requires. Stay healthy, decrease your calorie intake and strive for seven to nine hours of sleep each night!