The Inside Skinny On Sleep
How often do you fall asleep during a spa treatment? If you’re like me, just sitting in a pedicure chair elicits an immediate pavlovian response – my eyelids start to droop. By the time the massage comes around, I’m practically comatose and I’ve even been known to drool. Oh yeah – not a pretty picture…
But what is sleep? Wikipedia describes it as “a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles.” OK , that’s fine, all living creatures – all mammals and birds and many reptiles, amphibians and fish - need it in one form or another and it’s obviously not only important, but vital, to our health and wellbeing.
Studies prove what your mommy told you growing up: the average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. Only what she didn’t tell you is that if you’re not getting enough sleep, less than what your body actually needs, you are 30 – 80% more likely to develop diabetes, have heart disease and even experience premature death. Wow!
And now it turns out that sleep deprivation can also make you fat!
“There is robust evidence supporting the role of reduced sleep as contributing to the current obesity epidemic,” write Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput, of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa and Dr. Angelo Tremblay of Laval University in Quebec City.
People who stay awake longer tend to eat more, and the foods of choice – as opposed to carrot sticks and broccoli – tend to be high in calories. It’s no surprise that this most often takes place in front of the TV screen or the computer. Chaput says a study showed people who go to bed late eat about 400 to 500 calories more a day than people who go to bed early and wake up early.
“We know that short sleepers in general feel more hungry. And when we restrict calories in the diet of short sleepers, we know that if we already feel more hungry and you cut calories, hunger plus hunger means very hungry,” he said.
“If they want to lose weight, of course at some point they will need to cut some calories. But if they don’t take into account their sleeping patterns, they might fail.”
Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, in a March 2012 panel discussion entitled Fighting the Clock: How America’s Sleep Deficit is Damaging Longterm Health,
Have you ever wondered why you have a sudden urge for late night munchies? That’s because the stomach produces a hormone called ghrelin that signals the brain that we’re hungry and need to eat more, especially high-calorie foods. At the same time, the hormone Leptin that reduces your appetite is decreased – also increasing your hunger.
On top of that, Hu noted that sleep deprivation increases cortisone production which, in turn, can increase blood pressure and heart rate. ” It has been shown that a chronic elevation of cortisone can actually increase your risk of weight gain and obesity, especially abdominal obesity, which is extremely dangerous for type 2 diabetes and the cardiovascular disease.”
The upshot? If you want to lose weight, in addition to the current advice to eat fewer calories and get regular exercise, maybe you might want to make sure that you’re also getting enough sleep!
Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity, Jean-Philippe Chaput and Angelo Tremblay http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2012/09/17/cmaj.120876
Fighting the Clock: How America’s Sleep Deficit is Damaging Longterm Health, Harvard School of Public Health and Huffington Post, http://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/downloads/transcripts/transcript-20120306.pdf
Short sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review, Patel SR, Hu FB, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org