Sleep and Obesity: The Connection Between the Two

Adult Sleep Problems, Weight Gain

The Connection Between Sleep and Obesity

The statistics are alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70.7% of adults in the United States are either overweight or obese. Almost 80% of overweight people report that they are experiencing sleep problems.

Obesity leads to different diseases, including sleep disorders. Poor sleep is also linked to different health problems, including obesity. While studies show that lack of sleep results to added weight, heavier people tend to have more problems in getting a good night’s sleep as well.

What is the relationship between sleep and obesity? Here are three factors on how sleep and obesity are connected to each other.

Promotes Excessive Weight

Lack of sleep can increase your risk of obesity. When you are sleep deprived, the level of your leptin (the hormone responsible for making you feel full) and ghrelin (the hunger-promoting hormones) drop. As the leptin and ghrelin levels drop, you start to crave high fat and high-calorie foods. The drop also leads to increase in the motivation to eat and intake more food.

The study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that (partial) sleep deprivation in men typically goes with increased fats and lower protein consumption which may contribute to weight gain. Another research Sleep and Obesity in Children and Adolescents found that sleep deprivation in children and adolescents have increased the risk for being overweight or obese due to neuroendocrine changes that increase their calorie intake from main meals and snacks.

Once you are sleep deprived, your leptin and ghrelin levels drop, increasing your cravings for high fat and high-calorie foods that cause obesity.

Increases Risks of Sleep Breathing Disorder

As a person gains weight, the risk of sleep-disordered breathing increases because of compromised respiratory functions. A research entitled Obesity and Obstructive Apnea concluded that obesity is a potent risk factor for the development and progress of sleep apnea. As you gain weight, you accumulate more fats in the lower torso around your abdominal area which increase the upper airway mechanical loads and decrease the compensatory neuromuscular responses which develop upper airway obstruction while you sleep.

During a sleep apnea episode, the muscles in the throat and tongue are more relaxed and the soft tissues around the throat block the airways. The accumulated fat in the areas of the truck and neck presses the airway once the throat muscles relaxed when sleep, causing disruption in breathing.

The Interactions Between Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea study posits that losing weight does not only benefit sleep apnea severity but also in reducing the cardiometabolic consequences related to both sleep apnea and obesity.

Obesity increases the risk of acquiring sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea. As you gain weight, you acquire more fats in your throat and tongue which block the airways resulting in a sleep apnea episode.

Slows Metabolism

When you are sleep deprived, your metabolism slows down.

The research conducted by Knutson, Spiegel, Penev, and Van Cauter concluded that chronic partial sleep increases the risk of obesity and diabetes because of glucose regulation, insulin resistance, energy expenditure, and neuroendocrine control of appetite which leads to excessive food intake. Lack of sleep has an effect on your insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance making your body unable to metabolize energy from the foods you consume that contain carbohydrates.

When you are sleep deprived, it negatively affects the release of the growth hormones in your body. Lower HGH levels due to lack of sleep may cause reduced muscle mass. Diminished mass slows down your metabolism, making it easier for you to get fat.

Lack of sleep results in your insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Your growth hormones also decrease, slowing down your metabolism and making you gain weight faster.

There are several factors on how sleep can increase the risks of obesity and how obesity can cause sleep deprivation. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to eat more causing obesity while those who are obese cannot get quality sleep. If you are experiencing the symptoms of sleep disorders because of your weight or you are gaining weight because of a possible sleep problem, consider visiting a sleep expert like a dentist specializing in sleep issue as soon as possible.

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