It may come to no surprise to you that studies indicate that easily half of the US population is currently overweight and that a bit more than a third are considered technically obese. It’s also quite interesting to note that since the early 1900’s the amount of sleep that people here in the US have been getting per night has also declined steadily from approximately nine hours of sleep to less than six or even five hours. So what’s up in America?
Are we creating a nation of obese individuals because of our work-hard study-hard habits? With this inverse relationship, you have to wonder – is there a relationship between lack of sleep and weight gain?
Lack of Sleep is Rampant
From college students to construction and hospital workers, lack of sleep is no stranger to a majority of the current work force, but how much does it play a part in how one loses or gains weight? As early as 1999, articles have tied a chronic lack of sleep to impairment of certain functions in the body that maintain your metabolism. Some of these changes also appeared to hasten the onset of age-related disorders such as memory loss and diabetes, including obesity.
Early Studies Show Sleep Deprivation Impacts Metabolism
One small study involved following 11 young men for more than two weeks. After subjecting part of the group to sleep deprivation (although they were all fed the same diet), the sleep-deprived group showed an incredible decrease in their ability to break down glucose (taking up to 40% longer) than their non-sleep deprived counterparts. Some of the participants’ results even seemed to mimic type-2 diabetes.
Another more recent study on a group of 14 nurses at an army hospital showed similar results, with the sleep-deprived lot of nurses (those who received less than 5 hours of sleep per night) having a higher body mass index (indicative of being more obese) than the longer sleepers. Interestingly enough though, these participants appeared to be 20% more active (measured by the number of the steps that they took) and burned up to a 1000 more calories per day than those who had a more normal body mass index.
What Can You Do?
The studies seem to indicate that an ongoing lack of sleep can cause and contribute to hormonal and metabolic disruptions, or cause offshoot behaviors that will further impact these individuals, such as eating to relieve stress. So what should you do with respect to sleep? The best bet, not just for weight control, but for overall general bodily and mental health, is to always ensure you get plenty of rest. We often under-estimate the value of rest in our go-go-go society, but the truth of the matter is – you’re only up to the task if you’re well prepared, and that means getting plenty of rest. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot and I am almost positive that your body will thank you for it.