Can Not Getting Enough Z’s Make You Fat?

Lack of sleep = weight gain over time It has been observed that more sleep can contribute to weight loss and less sleep contributes to weight gain. A NHANES study of 68,183 women over 16 years showed that women who had longer duration of sleep gained less weight over time (see figure 1 below). Various studies show that different age groups who had interrupted sleep also had higher BMI including children, adolescents, and college-aged populations.

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Okay so why is poor sleep hygiene making us FAT???

When you’re tired during the day, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and be less inhibited about your decisions. Hence, reaching for the donuts instead of the fruit. Your brain literally “lights up” when it sees these savory and fatty foods. Researchers believe this is due to a hormonal imbalance caused by changes in your appetite hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin tells your body when your hungry and leptin tells your body when it’s full. With sleep deprivation, there is an increase in ghrelin and decrease in leptin. As a result your always falsely hungry and slow to recognize when you’re full.

Americans get an average of 6 hours of sleep a night and we continue to see a downward trend of sleep duration across the states. So start incorporating 7-9 hours per sleep in your health plan and keep those hormones in check. Poor sleep can be to blame if you’re struggling to achieve your goal weight.

Here are a few question to reflect on your own personal sleep hygiene
1. What time do you go to bed every night and wake up every morning?
2. How many hours do you sleep on an average night?
3. Do you have difficulty falling asleep once in bed?
4. How many times do you wake each night?
5. Do you feel refreshed upon waking in the morning?
6. How often do you feel sleepy during the day?

Desired Answers
1. Consistent (even on weekends)
2. 7-9 hours of actual sleep
3. No, usually fall asleep within 30 minutes
4. Rarely, wake once per night
5. Yes, no feelings of grogginess or grogginess dissipates within a few minutes
6. Rarely

Golem DL, Martin-Biggers JT, Koenings MM, Davis KF, Byrd-Bredbenner C. An Integrative Review of Sleep for Nutrition Professionals. Advances in Nutrition. 2014;5(6):742-759. doi:10.3945/an.114.006809.