How Lack Of Sleep Affects Metabolism And Causes Weight Gain

Sleep and metabolism go hand in hand. Find out how the loss of sleep can lead to metabolic dysfunction in this post.

RELATED: How To Lose Weight In A Month In A Manageable Way

In this article:

  1. A Study Linking Sleep and Weight Gain
  2. What the Results Suggest
  3. Sleep and Metabolism: The Implications
  4. The Connection Between Sleep and Hormones
  5. Other Impacts of Sleep and Metabolism
  6. Do You Lose Weight When You Sleep?

Sleep and Metabolism: Poor Sleep Health Equates to Weight Gain and Metabolic Syndrome

What is metabolic syndrome? It is a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of metabolic-related disorders. These include heart disease and diabetes.

A Study Linking Sleep and Weight Gain

One of the most-studied relationships in sleep medicine is sleep and metabolism. Most of the types of research, though, focus on glucose metabolism.

How does the body respond to fat when you have a bad sleep schedule? Pennsylvania State University researchers want to connect sleep and lipid metabolism.

You can read the research in the Journal of Lipid Research, but here’s the summary.

The team worked with 15 healthy young men. Before they checked into the sleep lab, they spent a week getting restful sleep.

The researchers then simulated a typical American workweek. These men slept less than five hours a night on certain days.

They also ate a standard high-fat meal, which was a chili mac bowl. It was appetizing enough, and the participants didn’t struggle to finish it.

The team also engaged the males in various activities such as games while they stayed in the lab for ten nights.

What the Results Suggest

The researchers then drew blood samples from the participants. They used these to measure their lipids or fats.

They also analyzed the behavior of the men and discovered two things:

  • Not sleeping well seems to influence their postprandial lipid response. It accelerates the clearance of fat, which forces the body to store it.
  • Individuals who were sleep-deprived didn’t feel satisfied after eating the meal.

That’s not all. The researchers also went on to simulate a standard weekend. The participants could sleep for a period of ten hours and consumed the same meal.

The results suggested their lipid metabolism improved. It meant their bodies were able to deal with fats better.

Still, not even one long sleep helped bring their numbers back to healthy baseline levels.

Sleep and Metabolism: The Implications

The team wanted to emphasize that they conducted the study in a much-controlled environment. It closely mimicked real-life situations.

The lessons, though, are not lost. Sleep and metabolism are closely related, and this connection can determine a person’s susceptibility to weight gain.

The question now is how. For that, you can refer to a 2014 article in USA Today. According to it:

  • People tend to consume a higher number of calories when they lack sleep.
  • Individuals tend to eat more high-fat foods when they are sleep-deprived.
  • They eat more and engage in physical activity less.
  • The body tries to compensate what it feels is lower energy metabolism due to longer wakefulness by eating more.

Most of all, not getting regular sleep can lead to hormone issues that may also influence weight gain and obesity.

RELATED: How To Maintain Weight Loss In A Healthy Way

The Connection Between Sleep and Hormones

What does lack of sleep cause in relation to your hormones? Hormones are chemicals that let your body do many essential functions.

For instance, your body produces insulin, which delivers glucose to cells. These cells then use it as fuel for energy metabolism.

These hormones, though, are sensitive to cues. These then further highlight the connection between sleep and metabolism.

The USA Today article revealed that sleep deprivation can increase the levels of ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone. It plays a central role in producing growth hormone, according to a 2001 study.

Your growth hormone is responsible for helping build muscle mass and even burn fat or increase metabolism. Ghrelin, though, can also increase your food intake.

Lack of sleep can also reduce the levels of leptin, which helps you feel full. Sleep deprivation may also boost the levels of hormones called endocannabinoids that may let you eat for pleasure.

Sleep deprivation can prevent fat tissue cells from responding appropriately to insulin. This can mean the body cannot convert these stored fats into energy or fuel.

This problem may even increase the risk of insulin resistance, a metabolic issue wherein the cells no longer respond to insulin and, thus, glucose.

Insulin resistance is one of the leading reasons for diabetes and obesity. It raises glucose levels in the bloodstream and wears out the pancreas, which produces the hormone.

Other Impacts of Sleep and Metabolism

Sleep—or the lack thereof—also has an influence on two other vital hormones called melatonin and cortisol.

People call melatonin the sleep hormone since it helps the body relax. It works alongside the body’s internal clock or circadian clock.

It is also sensitive to light, which means your body should produce more melatonin at night and less during the day. This way, you don’t end up snoozing at your workstation.

To do that, it regulates many functions of the body, including those of the brain. It manages your metabolism as well, such as temperature, heart rate, and even satiety.

Poor sleep timing can result in lower levels of melatonin. It may also affect the levels of other hormones such as ghrelin and leptin.

Melatonin also has a close relationship with cortisol, which is a stress hormone. It powers up your fight-or-flight response by increasing insulin, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Your cortisol levels shift or fluctuate throughout the day. They tend to be at their lowest at night when your body should feel relaxed and produce melatonin.

With poor sleeping habits, your body may experience chronic stress, which means cortisol levels remain high. It may then impact the production of melatonin.

Higher cortisol levels may not only be a weight gain cause but also a risk for cardiovascular disease or heart disease.

There’s also a strong connection between sleep apnea and weight gain.

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by moments of pauses in breathing while snoozing.

Many factors can cause this problem, but obesity can be one of these. Fat tissue can build up around the neck area, obstructing proper airflow.

Do You Lose Weight When You Sleep?

If a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and obesity, does this mean improving your sleep habits can result in weight loss? The answer is yes because it can:

  • Help regulate hormones that influence appetite, as well as sleep and metabolism
  • Improve your food-making choices

Not only that, but you can also lower your risk of other chronic disorders like heart disease or metabolic syndromes such as insulin resistance.

How can you improve your sleep and metabolism? Here are six tips:

  1. Know the best time to eat, as recommended by this Rush University research.
  2. Practice proper sleep hygiene, such as controlling room temperature.
  3. Limit light exposure during nighttime.
  4. Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  5. Lower your stress levels, especially at night.
  6. Work with health teams such as LIV Health for a personalized wellness plan.

People can lose sleep for a variety of reasons including body changes such as menopause. One cannot deny the fact, though, that sleep and metabolism also go hand in hand.

It takes more than a proper diet or physical activity to lose weight. When it comes to regulating metabolism and improving your health lifestyle, you also need rest and sleep.

How do you promote quality sleep? Share your tips in the comments section below!

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Four nights of sleep restriction suppress the postprandial lipemic response and decrease satiety – jlr.org

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