Can Poor Sleep Make You Fat?


Hey, sleep warriors, today I'm going to be talking about sleep and weight. And the bottom line is that if we're sleep deprived, our weight tends to go up.

Now, you're probably aware that when you don't sleep well, you don't feel good, and you are less likely to want to exercise. But have you ever noticed that after a poor night of sleep, you tend to feel hungrier and make poorer food choices? 

When I was in residency, I spent many nights on call, often awake a good portion of the night in the mornings following my call nights, I would go all out for breakfast for chicken biscuit sandwiches, or even waffles loaded up with butter and syrup.

I thought I was just rewarding myself for surviving another night on call and that these treats were justified when actually they were leading to weight gain. The truth is that there's more to poor food choices after a bad night of sleep than just feeling sorry for yourself and poor coping skills.

It turns out that sleep deprivation impacts the hormones that regulate our appetite. Two such hormones are graland and leptin, and they're important for regulating our drive to eat.

Graland makes us feel hungry, and leptin makes us feel full. Now, during sleep, our leptin levels actually increase, keeping us feeling full probably so we don't wake up starving in the middle of the night. But when we're sleep deprived or have disrupted sleep, then our leptin or our full hormones, don't increase normally, and we end up feeling hungrier. Combine this with the lack of self-control associated with sleep loss, and you guessed it more calories and poor food choices.

So the next time that you don't sleep well, be prepared for these changes. Help your body to feel more full by drinking more water, especially before a meal. Include foods like berries, whole grains, and healthy oils, such as olive oil, because these foods are known to help increase leptin levels naturally and will help you to feel more full.

And if you know that you're going to be sleep-deprived, such as an early morning appointment or a flight, plan ahead and have some healthy snacks on hand so that you're less tempted to grab that donut and juice.

Thanks for being here. I'll see you next week. 

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