Are You Losing Sleep and Gaining Weight?
Sleep services all aspects of our bodies in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood. There is not a single tissue in the body that is not beneficially affected by sleep. It’s the single most effective we can do every day to reset the health of our brains and bodies. Sleep helps us to think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better. When we’re tired, we just can’t function at our best. The fact is, well-rested people operate at a different level than people trying to get by on 1 or 2 hours less nightly sleep.
A study done a few years ago by Dr. Qian Xiao, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute in Maryland, found that the less sleep men and women got the more weight they gained. Those who slept for six hours or less per night gained more weight than those who slept seven to eight hours. Even more alarming was what happened to the normal-weight men and women who reported sleeping less than five hours each night: They were 30% more likely to gain 11 pounds or more compared with those who slept seven to eight hours and about 40% more likely to become obese during follow-up.
The findings are particularly powerful because the Dr. Xiao and his team followed patients’ weight gain over a 7-1/2 year period and because of the large size and diversity of the study population. The association between lack of sleep and weight gain was consistent no matter what the subject’s age, educational level, smoking status, BMI, and physical activity level. With more than 80,000 people in the study, it’s more than likely that the sleep deprivation/weight gain connection exists for just about everyone.