Can lack of sleep make you fat?

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Can lack of sleep make you fat? Scientists have developed a strong relationship that inadequate sleep leads to obesity. Infact, now scientists have identified how lack of sleep can bring about de-regulation in appetite, glucose metabolism and blood pressure thus eventually contribute to making one self-obese. Many factors are responsible now a days for poor sleep cycle most importantly; social, cultural and environmental factors which can cause inadequate sleep.

Dr Knutson justified the findings from experimental and observational studies of research groups of sleep project. The research data reveals clearly that how short or poor quality sleep is associated to increased risk of obesity via the mechanism of de-regulating appetite, therefore increasing the energy consumption. Moreover, Observational studies also concluded the associations between getting fewer than six hours sleep and increased body mass index (BMI) or obesity.

They have found out that inadequate sleep release the secretion of the signal hormones ghrelin, which increases appetite, and leptin, which indicates when the body is satiated. Hence, as a result of this, increased food intake has been noted without energy utilization, a major factor of now obesity. Some scientists have also found out there many ways sleep deprivation leads to obesity. Sleep-deprived people may be too tired enough to do exercise, so unable to burn enough calories. One can easily understand also those who sleep less, naturally, they awake a bit longer and have more chances to eat. Similarly, lack of sleep also disrupts the balance of key hormones that control appetite etc.

Humans may suffer from different nature of sleep disorders, including dyssomnias such as insomnia, hypersomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea; parasomnias such as sleep walking and REM behavior disorder etc. Sleep deprivation has been identified to have a link with several metabolic changes which affect body functions as well as behavior. If these significant changes sustain over a long period of time, obesity chance will be stronger. The most noted include increased secretion of hormones such as growth hormone, prolactin, cortisol, insulin, and thyroid hormone. The scientific studies also reveal that growth hormone and cortisol, rise either during the evening or during night sleep, while others like insulin actually lose their sensitivity during night sleep. Leptin and ghrelin, which are appetite-suppressing and hunger-promoting hormones, their level also fluctuate owing to sleep deprivation.

Avoid these 5 foods to get a good night’s sleep

Here are different ways you may improve your sleep:

  • Turn off electronic devices before bedtime at least half an hour

  • Don’t consume caffeine after dinner- including coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks and chocolate.

  • Limit down coffee, not more than 2  cups daily

  • Don’t go to bed hungry, but also don’t eat a large meal within 3 hours of bedtime.

  • Wake up every morning early.

  • Improve your sleeping environment: dark, cool room; 68 degrees, comfortable bed

  • Consider a sleep mask, earplugs, blackout curtains or white noise machine

  • Develop an active and healthy lifestyle including exercise and nutrition

  • Avoid taking naps or keep it less than one hour. Never nap after 3 p.m.

  • Avoid sleeping pills, or use cautiously –Avoid over-the-counter sleep medications without your physician’s advice

  • Don’t worry about problems in bed, schedule an earlier ‘worry time’

  • Don’t go to bed unless you’re sleepy, do something relaxing but not stimulating

  • If you’re not asleep in 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing

  • Try to do pre-sleep rituals that help you relax before bed: a stroll, soak, snack, music, reading, etc.

Get a full night’s sleep as often as possible to feel well rested almost every day.


Sikandar Sherwani

Faculty Microbiology-FUUAST and President -Medical Microbiology Association of Pakistan   (MMAP)