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5 ways sleep deprivation affects your weight


Are you always hungry? Do you often get urges to snack? Do you often need a sugar fix? It may be time to look at your sleeping habits. Indeed, several studies have shown that people who sleep less, whether it be in quantity and quality, have a tendancy of having a higher BMI (Body Mass Index). According to certain studies, the short sleepers , 6 hours or less per night, and the long sleepers, 10 hours or more per night, are at risk.

How can sleep affect your weight?

  1. An imbalance of hunger and fullness hormones

When we are sleep deprived, our bodies produce less leptin, the fullness hormone. When leptin levels plummet, it signals to your brain to eat more food. Lack of sleep also causes an increase in ghrelin production, the hunger hormone. Ghrelin signals your brain that it’s time to eat. In addition, the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are higher which tends to open our appetite… especially for sweets. So, it’s official, sleep deprivation equals increased hunger.

  1. More opportunities to eat

Increased waking hours most certianly represent more opportunity to give in to hunger. Therefore, those short nights are associated with an increased tendancy to snack/eat.

  1. Your body is craving a stimulant

The cravings for fatty or sweet food increase when one is tired because these particular foods are perceived as pick-me-ups or stimulants. Just like having a sweetened coffee when we’re feeling a little sluggish or a chocolate bar when we’re in need of energy. The only problem is, the energy your body is trully in need of is the energy that comes from sleep, not calories.

  1. An increased need for reward

When sleep deprived, our need to be rewarded is amplified and our self-restraint is weakened in the face of pleasure-enducing stimuli. What this means is, for example, you are more likely to give in to that muffin to go along with a cup of coffee or to reward yourself with a chocolaty treat when passing by the vending machine. 

  1. A drop in blood sugar

We can actually observe an increase in insulin levels, which will produce a drop in blood sugar levels. However, increased insulin levels will favour weight gain as well as increase the cosumption of high calorie foods, such as chips and chocolate. 

  1. A drop in spontaneous physical activity

The more you are tired, the less you want to move. You are prone to stay sitting/lying down. Therefore, when it comes to maintainig a healthly weight or succeeding at weight loss, proper sleep is as important a factor as wise food choices and regular physical activity. If your sleep is often not a recuperative one, you should plan your meals and snacks ahead of time as it will help you avoid temptation. However, you should look into ways of improving your sleep habits rather than struggle with the effects that sleep deprivation can have on your body.

Marie-Christine Morin

A graduate of the University of Montreal, Marie-Christine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and is a nutritionist at Nautilus Plus since 2015. Her interest in nutrition was triggered by a particularly difficult period in her life and decided to take her health into her own hands. And so the fascination began for all that encompasses a healthy lifestyle: nutrition, stress management, mental wellbeing, physical activity, etc. Her goal is to help people adopt healthier lifestyles and find that balance that appeals to them. During her sessions, she uses psychological science as well as food awareness to help motivate people. She is a mother of 2, she is interested in children’s nutrition, developing both a healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food. She works out regularly at the Nautilus Plus center where she works and enjoys weight training and CrossFit-type workouts. She also practices yoga. Marie-Christine Morin, Dt.P.

5 ways sleep deprivation affects your weight is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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