Scientists have raised the alarm, warning that losing sleep increases the risk of becoming obese. According to the finding of a new study conducted by researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden, said a lack of sleep affects energy metabolism by disrupting sleep patterns and affecting the body’s response to food and exercise.
Although, several studies had found a connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain, the cause had been unclear. Sleep deprivation/loss is the condition of not having enough sleep and it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain.
It also adversely affects the brain and cognitive function. Christian Benedict and his colleagues had conducted a number of human studies to investigate how sleep loss may affect energy metabolism. These studies had measured behavioural, physiological and biochemical responses to food, following acute sleep deprivation.
However, the behavioural data revealed that metabolically healthy, sleep-deprived human subjects prefer larger portions of food, seek more calories, show signs of increased impulsivity related to food, and expend less energy.
The ‘newsmaxHealth’ reported that the group’s physiological studies indicated that sleep loss shifts the hormonal balance from hormones that promote fullness (satiety), such as GLP-1, to those that promote hunger, such as ghrelin.
Sleep restriction also increased levels of endocannabinoids, which were known to stimulate appetite. Known as ‘the body’s own cannabinoid system,’ the ECS was involved in a variety of physiological processes, including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory and in mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabis. In addition, the research showed that acute sleep loss alters the balance of gut bacteria that had been widely implicated as key for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
The same study also found reduced sensitivity to insulin after sleep loss. “Since perturbed sleep is such a common feature of modern life, these studies show it is no surprise that metabolic disorders, such as obesity are also on the rise,” said Benedict.
Obesity is a condition where a person has accumulated so much body fat that it might have a negative effect on their health. If a person’s bodyweight is at least 20 per cent higher than it should be, he or she is considered obese.
If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. “My studies suggest that sleep loss favours weight gain in humans,” he said. “It may also be concluded that improving sleep could be a promising lifestyle intervention to reduce the risk of future weight gain.” Not only is a lack of sleep adding pounds, other research had discovered that too much light while you sleep can also increase your risk for obesity.