"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Too little sleep and an excessive amount of weight: a dangerous duo

You are walking down the road early within the morning after staying up all night to finish a project on your boss. The coffee shop on the corner all the time beckons you. But today, this siren song is greater than a cup of joe. Somehow, there's an irresistible urge to purchase a donut or two.

If you've ever wondered why, read on.

Americans say the quantity of sleep they get each night has dropped from a median of about 8.5 hours within the Nineteen Sixties to slightly below 7 hours today. There are probably many reasons for this, but possibly 24/7 occupations, length of “day” with artificial light, use of electronic devices at bedtime (blue wavelength light from these devices delay the onset of sleep does), and the widespread belief that sleep is a lower priority than other activities, whether work-related or pleasure-related.

And today, not only are more of us sleeping less, we're also obese. More than 30 percent of American adults are actually obese, in comparison with lower than 15 percent within the Nineteen Sixties. This “obesity epidemic” has also spread to children, with about 17% now considered obese. This is a worrying trend as obese children are more likely to develop into obese adults.

Is there a link between decreased sleep duration and increased obesity? Overwhelming evidence suggests that there's. Several large studies involving 1000's of adults have generally found that those that sleep less (defined as 5 hours or less per night, but sometimes 6 hours or less) are 45 percent more more likely to be obese. Up to more. We don't have as much data on children, but one study found that children who slept lower than 7.5 hours per night had thrice the chance of obesity over a 5-year period.

Studies also show that those that sleep less often don't eat healthier. Overall, their diets contain less food variety, a better percentage of calories from snacks, and better amounts of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Additionally, they skip necessary meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and eat more snacks. These habits promote weight gain and the eventual development of obesity.

Is there a scientific explanation for the eating behavior of short sleepers? Experimental studies show that sleep deprivation results in changes in hormones that regulate blood sugar (glucose) processing and appetite. For example, the hormone ghrelin stimulates appetite, while the hormone leptin reduces it. With sleep restriction, ghrelin levels rise and leptin levels fall, thereby increasing appetite and hunger. Additionally, these studies have observed that sleep-restricted individuals have greater cravings for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.

So what does the information that links insufficient sleep to weight gain tell us?

The take-home message is that getting enough sleep is one strategy to reduce the chance of weight gain and obesity. There is a bent to placed on kilos as we age. Inadequate sleep will worsen this phenomenon. If an individual is already obese or obese, it's going to be tougher to drop extra pounds without adequate sleep. From a societal perspective, the obesity epidemic, with its associated increase in rates of several chronic conditions (eg, heart disease, diabetes), places a greater burden on health care systems and increases health care costs. Contributes to expenses. Adequate sleep deserves to hitch exercise and good nutrition as one in all the essentials for good health.