Insomnia is a very real and sometimes unnerving condition, the effects of which can often be devastating. In general, sleep disorders and sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, heart attacks and high blood pressure. Several studies have even shown that 90 percent of those with insomnia also have another health condition.
A little known effect of insomnia, however, is weight issues. Recent studies show that lack of sleep can cause hunger and negatively affect your body’s metabolism, as well as a host of other problems.
Energy And Weight Loss
Energy is important for weight loss because it gives us the ability to be active and therefore burn calories. What can easily happen if you’re not getting enough sleep is that you’ll become sedentary and un-energized, which causes a lack of calories burned. Not burning calories leads to your body hoarding calories as fat, which causes weight gain.
” Sleep debt is like credit card debt,” Susan Zafarlotfi, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center, said. “If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.”
Without sleep, your body is also not able to metabolize carbohydrates, which leads to a storage of fat and higher blood sugar. High blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which is a trigger for such health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Another consequence of sleep deprivation in relation to weight loss is an increase in hunger. Sleep deprivation leads to hunger because of an increase in a hormone called cortisol, which can make you feel hungry even when you’re not at all.
As a result of increased hunger, sleep deprivation ultimately makes you eat more because you think you need to when you don’t. It’s also easy to reach for foods that are high in sugar as a way to stay awake and gain energy. Sugary foods and other bad carbohydrates give you a burst of energy that might make you feel awake for a little while, but in the long run they can lead to a storage of fat and, ultimately, weight gain.
Improve Your Sleeping Habits
It’s important to understand that getting more sleep won’t make you lose weight on its own, but it can help your body function properly and promote weight loss.
“It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” author Michael Breus, PhD, said.
Try getting around 7.5 hours of sleep on average to help keep your body healthy and promote weight loss, Breus recommended.
“If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pounds, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight,” he said.
Sleep deprivation can be a scary thing for many reasons, so it’s important to try and get a handle on it and start getting an adequate amount of sleep every night. If you do, you’ll notice the effects almost immediately.