Obesity is the next big epidemic that people and in fact, healthcare professionals around the world are finding hard to control. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has increased by nearly three times since 1975.
The WHO fact sheet reveals how in 2016, a whopping 1.9 billion adults were estimated to be overweight. Among these individuals, nearly 650 million people were deemed obese. Additionally, a majority of people in the world live in countries where being overweight or obese kills an individual rather than being underweight.
There are a number of health complications that may arise because of obesity. A higher than normal body mass index (BMI) has been identified as one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and musculoskeletal disorders with osteoarthritis being the most common one.
In fact, the rate of diabetes has almost doubled in people between the age of 18 and 34 primarily because of the increase in the obesity. This has a severe impact on the longevity and the quality of life of the affected individual.
There are several factors that trigger diabetes, physical inactivity and high consumption of processed foods being two of them. Changes in physical activity and diet due to societal and environmental variation may trigger weight gain in many individuals.
Overweight and obese individuals often turn to the traditional methods of weight management to lose the extra pounds off their bodies. Diet management, exercising, and doing things increase their physical activity are some of the methods that they opt for. Morbidly obese individuals may even go for a weight loss surgery if advised by their doctors.
However, moderately to minimally invasive people, who are not able to lose weight through conventional methods may often fail to notice that the reason for their weight gain could be something else. This is also true for people who are living a healthy life but still not able to keep themselves in shape.
It could be because of something simple, ranging from not drinking enough water to not sleeping for enough number of hours. Yes, sleep deprivation is an important factor that may lead to weight gain. Several studies have proved the same.
A study published back in 2015 reveals how losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep per day can lead to weight gain in the long term. This article examines how lack of sleep may lead to weight gain and why it is important to have a good sleeping schedule.
Why Is Sleep So Important For The Human Body?
People often see dark circles under their eye and blame their erratic sleeping schedule for it. However, little do they know that their sleeping schedule has an immense impact on all their body functions and not just the appearance of their skin.
For example, lack of sleep can affect the functioning of the brain. As surprising as it may sound, it may lead to a deficit in cognitive functioning related to decision making, memory, and reaction time.
Sleep is absolutely necessary for the body to heal properly. At night, the different cells in the body repair and heal themselves. All the repair and maintenance work is usually done by the next morning, and this is when the individual feels fresh enough to begin the day.
In the absence of sound sleep, the repair work is left incomplete and therefore, the different body systems are not able to work optimally the next day. Such an individual may feel lethargic and devoid of energy, or feel too tired to carry out routine work and may, in fact, slack off excessively.
Moreover, lack of sleep may put the body of an individual under tremendous stress. The cells of the stressful body are bound to store fat under threat of stress, adding to potential weight gain.
Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain Mechanisms
There are several mechanisms by which sleep deprivation trigger weight gain in an individual. Some of these mechanisms are explained below:
High cortisol levels
The greater you stay away from peaceful sleep, the greater are the chances that the cortisol levels will increase in your body. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone that rises with sunrise and eventually starts to drop as the sun sets and your activity levels decrease. In case you stay up late, cortisol thinks that it is still day and continues to circulate in your body.
Higher cortisol levels trigger an increase in appetite. This, in turn, leads to overeating. People tend to reach out to their comfort foods at night in order to curb their appetite. People tend to reach out to the bad foods that make them feel better. There is an explanation for that as well.
When stress hormone rises, the body tries to produce serotonin to calm the body. Ones of the easiest ways to induce serotonin production and experience the “feel good” factors is to consume high-fat and high-carb foods. This can again contribute to weight gain.
Sugar processing machinery failure
The mitochondria in the cells of people who are sleep deprived close down and the sugar continues to circulate in their blood. This increased concentration of glucose in the blood may spike insulin production. This may eventually lead to insulin resistance over the long-term. In fact, a study suggests that lack of sleep may actually make fat cells less efficient in their ability to utilize insulin.
Low leptin levels
Sleep deprivation can mess up all your hormones big time and the hunger hormone is one of them. Lack of sleep may spike the levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Additionally, it may limit ghrelin, which signals satiety. It has been scientifically proved that sleep-deprived people are likely to consume 300 additional calories per day as compared to people who do not suffer from lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep can practically mess with every system in the human body. It makes the body work overtime and also prevents it from repairing itself properly. Making sleep your priority is important, especially for people who suffer from weight gain issues. One must sleep at a fixed time at night and try to wake up at a fixed time to set the natural body clock to feel the difference in their bodies.
Guneet Bhatia is a freelance medical writing professionally. She is an aspiring novelist who intends to live a nomadic life with a vision to empathetically touch as many lives as a person can during his or her lifetime. She has a vested interest in breaking the health myths that people often surround themselves with.