Poor sleep is known to produce a range of unusual and life-threatening conditions that, if left untreated, are ultimately deadly. One consequence of broken or insufficient sleep is obesity.
Improving Sleep to Improve Weight Loss
With one-third of the global population obese or overweight, a new study published in The Lancet finds that not one country has reduced its obesity in the prior three decades (read more here at The New York Times). Despite millions of dollars spent in campaigns to educate and combat obesity, people continue to get fatter.
Yet with all of the money and focus on weight loss, more people increasingly believe they are not, in fact, overweight. Over half of American adults self-report that they are not overweight. According to a recent Gallup survey on weight and obesity in America:
More than half of adults (55 percent) said they don't think they are overweight and aren't making an effort to shed pounds, according to a new Gallup poll. In contrast, recent studies have shown that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
When the researchers considered the genders separately, they found that although men are more likely to be overweight than women, 60 percent of men reported that they were neither overweight nor trying to lose weight, compared with 50 percent of women who said the same.
Sleep Problems Cause Obesity in Children, Adolescents, and Teens
In looking at the various causes of national (and worldwide) obesity rates, one determining factor that is gaining increasing attention is the quantity and quality of one's sleep. A recent study published in the journal SLEEP and another study published in Pediatrics both found that one of (if not the greatest) predictive factors in obesity was sufficient and adequate healthy childhood sleep.
It turns out that the only significant individual protective factor against obesity in children was getting adequate sleep. Children who didn't get enough sleep had a greater risk for being overweight, even after controlling for parents' BMI and socio-demographic characteristics. In addition, how much sleep parents received was related to how much children had.
What kind of numbers are we talking about? 20% of adult Americans (1 in 5) get less than 6 hours of sufficient nightly sleep. More than 53 million adults in the United States are at-risk for sleep-related obesity. The problem lies in the metabolic functions that occur during sleep.
How Insomnia, Sleep Loss, and Sleep Disorders Increase Weight and Worsen Obesity
Poor or broken sleep negatively affects appetite regulation, impairs glucose metabolism, increasing blood pressure, and de-regulating appetite. Hormones, neurotransmitters, and signals from the brain controlling and regulating appetite are negatively impacted by insufficient sleep.
Two critical hormones necessary for weight loss and obesity control are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin and leptin regulate energy and appetite. When a person gets fewer hours of sleep--or has increasingly broken, fragmented sleep--ghrelin hormone is increasingly secreted (thus increasing your appetite when you wake up) and leptin hormone is decreased (thus reducing your feeling of being satiated, or full). The net effect is that a person with reduced or broken sleep is hungrier, eats more food, and is more fatigued with less energy necessary to exercise the added caloric intake off.
Sleeping longer may not necessarily fix the problem. Patients whose sleep is fragmented or broken by an undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorder could sleep 8-10 hours nightly and yet still be lacking sufficient restorative sleep. Thus, an overweight or obese patient could sleep 8-10 hours, follow a strict diet, and regularly exercise, and if the patient has an undiagnosed sleep disorder or sleep problem, they could still remain overweight or obese despite all of their hard work. When one considers that 90% of patients with a sleep disorder or broken sleep are undiagnosed, it is a good idea to request a sleep study or sleep test if you are overweight or obese or are struggling with losing weight.
How Accredited Sleep Testing Helps Lose Weight
Patients who struggle with weight gain or loss should consider having their sleep evaluated with a sleep study (polysomnography) or a sleep test. A full channel attended sleep study is performed in an accredited sleep lab like SleepSomatics where the sleep architecture is fully quantified and evaluated. A sleep test is a limited channel test that evaluates sleep-disordered breathing (obstructive sleep apnea). Overweight or obese patients in Austin, TX and throughout central Texas should consider calling SleepSomatics for their sleep study.
Concerned you aren't getting enough sleep? If you or someone you care about snores or is tired and fatigued during the day, sleep-disordered breathing (and sleep apnea) may be a serious risk. Get your sleep tested today by SleepSomatics, a professionally credentialed and accredited sleep test center located in Austin since 1999. Call 512.323.9253.