Could lack of sleep be causing you to gain weight?
Think about it: If you’re feeling sleepy at work, you may be tempted to
reach for a cup of coffee (or several cups) and a doughnut for a quick shot of
energy. Later you may skip the gym and pick up takeout on your way home to your
family -- no time to cook. When you finally find yourself back in your bed, you
are too wound up to sleep.
When it comes to sleep, can you have too much of a good thing? It's true a good night's sleep is essential for health. But oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and increased risk of death.
Researchers are careful to note, however, that two other factors -- depression and low socioeconomic status -- are strongly associated with oversleeping. Those two factors may be the reason for the observed negative health effects. For example, people of...
It’s a vicious cycle, and eventually this sleep deprivation can sabotage
your waistline and your health.
It starts out innocently enough. “When you have sleep deprivation and are
running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other
comfort foods,” saysSusan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute
for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New
The immediate result? You may be able to fight off sleepiness. The ultimate
result? Unwanted pounds as poor food choices coupled with lack of exercise set
the stage for obesity and further sleep loss.
“Sleep debt is like credit card debt,” Zafarlotfi says. “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.”
Not getting enough sleep is common -- even talked about with pride -- in the
U.S. “We brag about an all-nighter, but we do pay a price for staying up
late and getting up early,” says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota
Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County.
Understanding the Sleep-Diet Connection
The sleep-diet connection is regular fodder for diet books and magazine
articles. Maybe you have even heard about the sleep diet, which suggests you
can lose weight while you catch your ZZZs.
And it’s true, sort of.
“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,” explains
Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleepand the clinical director of
the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.