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Sleep Deprivation & Weight Loss

My friends over at ProGrade posted this article which I think is quite good because whether you are a college student, night shift worker or you are a parent with small children you may struggle to get regular sleep yet you want quick weight loss. The sleep recommendation provided by the National Sleep Foundation recommends 8 hours per night. According to the CDC and a National Health Interview Survey shows that 30% of Americans who are 30-64 years of age sleep less than 6 hours per night.

There is a prevalence of chronic sleep loss in America and it is troubling because for those looking to lose weight or who are following a healthy weight loss diet plan their attempts may be wasted. Research is showing that long term sleep loss is related to an increase in obesity and diabetes.

This research is even showing that partial sleep deprivation can manipulate key hormones that impact weight loss and weight gain. Lack of sleep can also affect insulin sensitivity, your appetite control and the amount of energy you expend when at rest. When these key hormones are affected it can predispose you to weight gain and obesity by causing insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a common symptom that leads to Type 2 diabetes and increased weight gain. When insulin resistance happens your body must produce extra insulin to get rid of the glucose out of your bloodstream. The reason your body has to produce extra insulin is because it doesn’t efficiently signal, which means the blood glucose is not cleared. If this resistance is to continue your pancreas becomes damaged and cannot continue to produce enough insulin. The end result is you will need to start taking insulin medications and your weight loss will stop.

Sleep loss may also increase your appetite and entice cravings for high carbohydrates food along with creating insulin resistance.1 Lack of sleep not only affects your insulin sensitivity but also affect cortisol levels and numerous other hormones that directly affect feeding. The result is you will battle an increase in appetite when your blood sugars are not in control.2

Cortisol is a stress hormone that directly influences blood sugar levels and is associated with an increase in obesity and specifically belly fat. Your healthy weight loss comes to a stop when cortisol levels are elevated. Some research has shown that 1 sleepless night may increase your cortisol levels. A study of 33 men were examined for 36 hours and some slept 8 hours, 4 hours of sleep and also total sleep deprivation. Those who slept 4 hours had a cortisol elevation of 37% above baseline and those who had total sleep deprivation had an elevation of 45% in cortisol levels.3

Cortisol levels that are too high is detrimental because it breaks down muscle protein, which then contributes to elevated blood glucose levels. This can lower your metabolism because of the muscle loss.

Getting away from the science a little a common potential side effect of not sleeping enough is it creates the opportunity to eat more times throughout the day. If you spend more time awake you are more likely to eat an extra meal or two. Now add to what I talked about above and the fact that your appetite may be elevated because of the hormones being out of whack and you could easily eat too many calories. You also may be tired and not feel like choosing healthier foods, but instead choose the processed convenience type foods that are or poor nutritional quality and higher in calories. Studies have shown that people actually eat more on average when they get less sleep.4

If you suffer from this type of eating pattern make sure you have some Prograde protein powder on hand so that you can quickly make a healthy shake instead of choosing a high calorie unhealthy food. Don't let your healthy weight loss be ruined by making unhealthy food choices.

If you know you lack sleep then start taking steps to improve your sleeping habits such as stick to a regular bedtime, avoid alcohol before bed, try to keep your bedroom at 70 degrees or below, turn off the television when lying in bed.

If none of these work or you feel your lack of sleep is more complicated than this I advise you consult with a sleep doctor and have them test your sleep pattern to see if there is a bigger reason for your lack of sleep.
Until next time - Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal
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Cited References:
1. Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, Van Cauter E. Brief communication: sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Ann Intern Med. 2004; 141:1-52.
2. Spiegel K, Leproult R, L’Hermite-Baleriaux M, Copinschi G, Penev PD, Van Cauter E. Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004; 89:5762-5771.
3. Leproult R, Copinschi G, Buxton O, Van Cauter E. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep. 1997; 20:865-870.
4. Spiegel K, Knutson K, Leproult R, Tasali E, Van Cauter E. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. J Appl Phys. 2005; 99: 2008-2019.


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