Many studies have linked obesity and insomnia. Research also shows that getting too much sleep, or irregular sleep (less than six hours or more than nine per night), can lead to fat deposits in the belly. Over seventy five percent of Americans claim to have difficulty sleeping (according to the National Sleep Foundation). At the same time, over 61% of Americans are now considered overweight. Recent studies have now shown a link between sleep, hormones and weight loss.
The prime culprits could be hormones. The hunger signals in your brain are controlled by two hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your brain when it is time to eat, and leptin tells your brain when you are full. When you are fatigued, ghrelin levels in your blood increase and leptin levels decrease. A recent study showed a 5% increase in body weight in those who slept less than three hours a night.
The National Center for Health Statistics conducted a survey of over 87,000 adults over the two year period from 2004 to 2006. Going door-to-door, they confirmed that obesity and sleep loss were linked. One third of the people who slept less than six hours were obese, while only 22% of those who slept the normal seven or eight hours were obese.
Children show the same results and suffer the same statistical link between sleep and obesity. Sleep deprivation has also linked obesity in teens to fibromyalgia. Teens who sleep less tend to be overweight, especially if they are deprived of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that is associated with dreaming. Thirteen percent of teens are overweight. This increases their risk for heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as sleep apnea.
A recent report in ScienceDaily linked truck drivers and truck crashes to sleep apnea caused by obese commercial truck drivers. Obstructive sleep apnea is common in the 15 million commercial truck drivers. It is suspected that as many as two to three million truck drivers may have apnea, a condition that is also attributed to causing hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. A report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that truck drivers who have sleep apnea increase their risk for causing a car accident by seven-fold. Over 450 drivers were involved in the study.
Science continues to find links between sleep and obesity, which leads to a simple conclusion. Increasing exercise and dieting may not only help with weight loss, it may also help you sleep. And visa versa. A good night’s sleep may help you lose weight.
ScienceDaily 12 March 2009. 16 March 2009 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/release…
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