What’s the Skinny on Sleep?

If you’re trying to lose weight you may want to think twice the next time you short yourself on sleep to squeeze in a workout. A mounting body of research is showing that sleep deprivation will make you fat. This has to do with two hormones that control appetite and metabolism; leptin and ghrelin. These two hormones act by controlling neuropeptide Y, a substance that is the most potent stimulator of appetite in humans. Neuropeptide Y also stimulates the accumulation of body fat. Leptin’s job is to keep levels of neuropeptide Y low, while Ghrelin’s action is to raise levels of neuropeptide Y to make you hungry.

Several studies have found that short sleep duration (less than 7-8 hours) is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin and increased body mass index. These studies concluded that the increased body mass index was probably due to increased appetite associated with elevated levels of Ghrelin. However, some of these same studies also found an increase in body mass index for those individuals who slept over 8 hours per night. Based on these studies, it looks like around 8 hours is about the perfect amount of sleep for most healthy individuals. There are times when the body needs more sleep to do extra healing and repair work, but very rarely can an individual stay healthy with less sleep.

The best way to ensure that you are getting enough sleep is to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. If you do this, your body will get used to going to bed at a certain time and will get tired when it is supposed to.

In addition to getting enough sleep, specific dietary changes can boost leptin levels. For more information on how manage your leptin levels and to discover other possible reasons that may be keeping you from losing weight call Integrated Health Systems to schedule a consult with Dr. Vaughn.