Sleep and weight loss

Perhaps you, like most of my patients, would like to lose weight.  Would you lose more weight if you slept more? 

There is a clear link between sleep deprivation and weight gain.  While no one has proven which condition causes the other, I suspect that lack of sleep causes obesity.  First, if you didn’t sleep for 48 hours, your ability to process sugars would collapse.  So glucose would stay in your blood as if you were diabetic.  With sleep deprivation, you would be less able to resist junk food.  One key hormone that tells you to stop eating- leptin- would crash and another that stimulates eating- ghrelin- would spike.  So inadequate sleep could cause you to eat more, eat worse, and process calories less well.

A recent study explored the relationship between sleep and weight with a registry of identical twins, who always share genetic material. Those who slept less than 7 hours per night were significantly heavier.  Even more interestingly, the less a twin slept, the more his or her obesity seemed driven by genetic factors.  The more a twin slept, the more independent his or her weight was of genetic influences.  So, the more of a tendency you have toward weight gain, the more sleep deprivation may cause you to gain weight.

So, give yourself seven- or if you can, eight- hours of sleep opportunity each night.  You’ll feel better during the day, and you might even lose weight.