Today, sleep deprivation is a very common occurrence where the majority of the population are working late at night completing a project needed for the next day. In other cases, the booming of outsourcing industry made companies to letting people work on night shift. While these are indicators that people are getting fitter financially, it’s the opposite when it comes to their health. Whether you’re working late, or night shift, you may end up after work in a coffee shop to take a shot of a cup of “Joe” to stay awake.
Well, there’s nothing wrong in drinking coffee. In fact, drinking coffee has been found to have many health benefits including prevention of erectile dysfunction in men, and reducing risk of heart disease are just among the many proven benefits. However, once in the coffee shop, it’s normal not just to drink a cup of coffee, but also buy something to eat and the most common food when it comes to this situation is the donut, which is packed with added sugar, plus the additives being added into the coffee to taste it good.
In the U.S. alone, there have been a declined in the number of sleep hours nightly. In the 60’s it used to be 8.5 hours per night while nowadays it’s only 7 hours a night and perhaps for some. The reason could be due to jobs requiring to work at night just like the ones mentioned earlier. Additionally, artificial lighting to simulate daylight during night makes people sleep late. The use of electronic devices that emit blue-wavelength light can delay the onset of sleep, too.
Coincidentally, there’s not just an increased in the number people who are deprived of sleep, but the number of individuals who are overweight also increased. This is not just in the United States, but in other developed countries including countries that have a booming economy with lifestyle closest to the lifestyle of the Western countries. During the last decade of the millennium, there used to be an obese adult. However, the obesity epidemic now affects children as young as 7 years old or even younger suffering from metabolic diseases that used to affect adults only. And, this is indeed alarming as the majority of children who are obese will grow as obese into their adult life.
Sleep Deprivation and Obesity Trend
Now, you may be asking what’s the connection between not sleeping enough and obesity? While it seems there’s not much of a direct link, compelling evidence through studies and clinical research suggest there is a clear link between sleep deprivation and obesity trend. In fact, there are numerous studies that looked at thousands of adult men and women and found those who sleep 6 hours or less were up to 45% chances of becoming obese. On other hand, there is not much data for children, but there’s one study that looked at kids who sleep 7.5 hours or less each night were three times the risk of getting obese during a 5 years follow-up period and likely to become depressed during early adolescence.
Moreover, the study also found that people who sleep less eat unhealthy meals and consumed less variety of foods, but high in calories that come from processed snacks, a higher amount of refined sugar, and even drinking alcohol. Not only that, these people tend to skip meals, but eat more on unhealthy snacks. These habits are a clear pathway to developing obesity.
Sleep Deprivation and Eating Behavior
Now let’s get into the scientific explanation why a lack of sleep can result in eating disorder. There are experimental studies that show a lack of sleep can result in abnormal processing of glucose, or level of sugar in the bloodstream and hormonal changes that involve appetite control. In this case, the ghrelin hormone stimulates appetite, while leptin reduces appetite. When there is a deprivation of sleep, ghrelin level increases while leptin decreases.
When this happens, hunger and food cravings occur plus an increase in appetite. In a different study, researchers found that sleep-deprived individuals have higher desire on eating foods with high-calorie content, and foods containing a high amount of carbohydrates. Sadly, these high-carb foods consumed are foods containing simple carbohydrates in which the body has difficulty processing it and end up storing as fat.
Take Home Message
It is clear that aiming at getting enough hours of sleep every night can help lower risk of weight gain and obesity. There’s also a higher chance of packing on pounds as one aged, but with adequate sleep, good nutrition and regular physical activities are good prevention.
Always keep in mind that depriving yourself of sleep will only worsen the situation and can lead to health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, make sleep as part of your priority along with regular exercise even as light as walking, eating healthy foods and basically practicing living a healthy way of life.
Lastly, here’s a very interesting presentation and hopefully will make you aim at getting enough sleep every night.