Is your bed making you fat?
Whaaaat? I hear you say. How can my bed be making me fat? Other than the horizontal spread that happens when I lie down….
Well, actually, now that you ask. Your sleep patterns can affect everything from insulin resistance to ‘needing’ to devour a glutinous, bowl of spaghetti loaded with a yummy sauce.
So here’s the deal. Our bodies need balanced quantities of various hormones, produced by our adrenals, liver and thyroid, in order to maintain our physical mass. When these become imbalanced, we put on weight. A health guru we recently spoke to said quite aptly, ‘happy hormones = happy body’. They were specifically referring to enzymes and their relationship to Estrogen. But as we know, the body is a complex machine and there are many other hormones and their enzymes at play. Some of which are directly affected by the amount, or lack of, sleep that we get.
The University of Chicago Medical Centre found that even partial lack of sleep alters the levels of hormones that control our hunger and cravings for certain foods. These ‘opposites attract’ hormones – ghrelin and leptin, control our hunger and our satiety in counteractive actions.
What scientists found was that two consecutive nights of between 2 and 4 hours sleep, resulted in a whopping ghrelin to leptin ratio increase of 71%. All of the healthy young guys on the study reported a crazy 24% increase in their appetite! They also reported that they really wanted to chow down on the things that make us fat – sweets, chocolate, pasta, bread and the like.
Leptin is your satiety hormone which tells you to stop eating when you’re full. Leptin, simply put, is your natural appetite suppressant. It has many other functions too, but because we’re talking just about the effect of sleep, we’ll leave the rest up to the scientists.
Ghrelin on the other hand, tells you when you are hungry. It has the opposite effect to Leptin and is one of the biggest reasons you seek out food.
With the Chicago study in mind, we know that sleep deprivation sends these two hormones in the opposite direction to where we want them to be. This results in an increased appetite and specifically, a desire to eat all the starchy, carb-rich foods that encourage obesity.
Obviously, these are not the only two hormones responsible for weight gain, as our body’s metabolic processes are rather complex and a bit out of our league to explain. But suffice to say that not only does sleep deprivation alter the leptin/ghrelin balance, but also several other hormones.
Most notable here is Insulin. It is responsible for regulating your blood sugar and telling your cells when to absorb glucose into cells for energy. Sleep deprivation causes decreased sensitivity to insulin which could result in insulin resistance and therefore an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
So, not getting enough rest at night could really be the reason your clothes seem to be shrinking.
Take a look at how to regulate your sleeping patterns in order to minimise your chances of becoming more than just squidgy round the edges.