Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Are Very, Very Sleepy

Unfortunately, many Americans are sleep deprived.

Researchers tell us that lack of sleep affects our performance, health, and even our weight but there are still people who brag about consistently getting by on 5 or 6 hours a sleep. It’s their norm so does it still have negative consequences or do their bodies adjust to less shut-eye?

Multiple studies have shown that no matter how tired you think you are, lack of sleep can influence the way you perform visual and cognitive tasks.

Other studies show a correlation to lack of sleep and weight gain (or diminished weight loss if you are trying to shed some excess fat).

It makes sense that being groggy could impair thinking and physical tasks but what does lack of sleep have to do with weight? Sleep affects the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which help regulate appetite and satiety.

Leptin helps you feel satisfied but when you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels fall so you don’t feel as satiated after eating. The hormone ghrelin helps control appetite. Sleep deprivation causes ghrelin to rise, making you hungrier.

One recent joint study between Stanford and the University of Wisconsin showed that those who slept less than 8 hours a night had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, and also higher levels of body fat. In fact, of the about 1,000 volunteers, the ones who slept the fewest hours per night weighed the most. 


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