Sleep And Obesity: Is There A Connection? - JUST BREATHE DDS

Did you know that getting enough sleep can help you maintain healthy body weight? Curious why? Evidence shows getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night has many benefits. Some of these include boosting your creativity, alertness, attention span, and immune function. It can also help your odds of fighting off serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes. A growing amount of research also links your weight with how much you sleep. Adults and children who sleep less than the recommended amount of sleep tend to be heavier than those who get the proper amount.

So how much heavier are we talking about? During a sixteen year long 4.sleep study in 2006, researchers observed the sleep habits of 60,000+ women. Results showed those who slept five hours or less per night were 30% more likely to gain 30 pounds than those who slept seven hours each night. That’s about equivalent to three pant sizes. Lack of sleep is definitely linked to weight gain but how? There are actually many factors involved:

When Tired, You Have Less Energy to Work Out 

If you are tired from not sleeping, most likely you will not have the energy to work out. So, it’s safe to say those who don’t get enough sleep end up exercising less and burning fewer calories. According to a recent study that backs this idea, people who stay up later reported it’s harder to keep an exercise routine compared to those who retire to bed early. In this study, they tracked 123 adults and found adults who had the tendency to stay up late (aka night owl) spent more time sitting. These night owls also found more perceived obstacles to working out, like being unable to stick to an exercise routine or not having enough time.

To make matters worse, the whole process can become a dangerous cycle. As you probably already know, exercising regularly can help you sleep better while a lack of exercise can negatively affect your quality of sleep. This means, when you don’t work out you end up even more tired and have less energy to work out. Most people will see some weight gain after being caught in the cycle. 

Being Tired Means Less Energy To Make Good Food Choices

After a long and crazy day at work, most of us want some type of comfort food that is fast and easy to make.  When we get home the last thing we want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen making something healthy, am I right? We tend to opt for the pre-packaged meals, ordering take out or delivery. Why is this? Well, when your energy is completely depleted, it’s hard to think straight. So, when we’re hungry we tend to reach for the easiest or yummiest thing in sight instead of something healthy.

Little sleep doesn’t just mean you make poor decisions, it also means you are staying up longer and you simply have more time to eat. Just because you stay up doesn’t mean you will keep eating but the current research proves otherwise. A 2013 sleep study found adults who stayed up until 4 A.M. consumed 550 more calories than the adults who went to bed before 10 P.M., and this added up to over two pounds gained in just five nights. Not that it could get any worse but research from the Oregon Health & Science University found the body’s internal clock appears to crave starch, sweet or salty foods after 8 P.M. Hello, nightly feeding frenzy!

Sleep Deprivation Can Change Metabolism & Hormones

Another important factor that helps you maintain a healthy weight is your pituitary gland. Although the pituitary gland is tiny, about the size of a pea, it has a big job of controlling the production and release of many of the hormones in your body. This includes cortisol, which is the stress hormone that is linked to weight gain. Your pituitary gland causes cortisol levels to decrease in the evening, which helps you to wind down. For those who are sleep deprived, levels of cortisol drop much slower. This means Cortisol never drops as low for them as those who get enough sleep. Over time, these increased levels of Cortisol can cause high blood sugar, which then could lead to weight gain.

Recent studies also suggest that sleep heavily influences the appetite-regulating hormones in your body. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain when you’re full and after a few nights with very little sleep, its levels become very low. This makes it harder for you to know when to quit eating. To make matters worse, your body is pumping out more ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates your appetite. So, being overtired means more cravings, especially for food high in carbohydrates.

The Answer: Get Better Sleep 

The solution seems pretty simple. If you are wanting to maintain or achieve a certain weight, then you’ll want to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. That is always easier said than done. For those who struggle with getting enough sleep, it may be time to start finding ways to sleep better. Some of these include practicing better sleep habits, making sure you have a good mattress that works for you, going to bed at the same time every night, or downloading some sleep-promoting apps. Most likely, if you make sleep a priority, a good night’s sleep and a healthy weight will come.

Rely On A Sleep Professional Today

If you still struggle to get good sleep despite all your efforts, then it may be time to get help. You may be suffering from a Sleeping Disorder and Just Breathe DDS is a great place to start. We are not only treating the symptoms associated with sleep breathing disorders but more importantly, at the same time doing our best to treat some of the possible root causes of the conditions. For more information on how to get better sleep, give us a call at (208) 500-3030 or visit our website at We can help you breathe better, sleep better, and live better!


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