Did you know that sleep can make you thinner? While many people know that poor sleep is linked to health conditions like hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease; weight gain and obesity were off the list…until now.
A recent study of twins from the University of Washington demonstrated that sleeping less than seven hours a night on a regular basis is associated with an increased body mass index (BMI) – the measurement used by doctors to determine obesity.
What the researchers observed was that genetic predispositions for weight gain were enhanced among those getting “short sleep” of less than seven hours a night. Conversely, those who slept eight hours a night or longer had a lower BMI.
“Sometimes a tough problem can keep you up at night. In the case of being overweight, I suggest sleeping on it,” said Dr. Terrence Moore MD, Director of the 4BetterSleep Centers in the Park Cities area. “Getting eight hours a night makes weight loss and keeping trim easier.”
The reason for this is primarily hormonal. Insufficient sleep alters your metabolism, according to Dr. Moore. It increases hormones that stimulate appetite and decreases the hormone Leptin, which tells your brain you are full. Even worse, you crave sugar and carbohydrates, not broccoli – a consequence that will continue during your next sleepy day encouraging even more junk food cravings.
“The late-night munchies are biological consequences of sleep loss, not lack of willpower,” notes Dr. Moore.
And it is a huge problem affecting millions of Americans. Average hours of sleep per night have decreased by 1.5 hours over the past century – a trend that is accelerating. Since 2001, for example, the percentage of people getting approximately eight hours sleep decreased from 38 to 28 percent.
This chronic and widespread lack of sleep may be an important factor in the ballooning epidemic of obesity. Sufficient sleep can be a powerful weight loss tool by increasing the body’s natural appetite control and curbing junk cravings.
“While one or two late nights won’t necessarily affect your weight,” said Dr. Moore. “Habitual sleeplessness is a health risk. If you have trouble getting eight hours a night, you may need to see a specialist to find out why and to get back on track – for your weight and your health.”
Not sure if you have a sleep problem? Take an online sleep quiz. Learn more about sleep disorders and/or arrange for a sleep study by calling 214-466-7222 or at www.4bettersleep.com.
P. Terrence Moore, M.D.
4Better Sleep Centers
Wake Up to Life Again
8722 Greenville Ave #102
Dallas, Texas 75243