We’ve all been told how important sleep is, not only for energy and mood levels but now it seems that sleep deprivation is linked with higher risks of being overweight by having a larger waist circumference.
A large study conducted among UK adults found that those who have shorter lengths of sleep (~6 hours a night) have on average, a 3cm thicker waist than those who have about 9 hours (Potter et al. 2017). Interestingly, longer sleep was also positively associated with better HDL cholesterol levels which are important for heart health.
How is one linked with another?
The amount of sleep we get and the synchronization of our biological clocks are both necessary to achieve energy balance and control the secretion of hormones that contribute to weight regulation. There are a few ways sleep duration can be linked to increases in BMI, one is changes in levels of appetite-regulating hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin. Other studies link levels of tiredness with an increased likeliness of consuming fast food and those who have fewer hours of sleep have been shown to have increased food intakes and decreased energy expenditure, ultimately causing weight gain.
Sleep and muscle synthesis
Another essential role that sleep plays on our bodies among others is muscle recovery and synthesis. Not reaching optimum levels of sleep is directly responsible for decreases in protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways, resulting in loss of muscle mass and may hinder muscle recovery after damage by exercise, injuries and certain conditions.
What’s the optimum amount of sleep?
For most adults, it is recommended that we get 7-9 hours of sleep a night to minimize a whole host of negative effects associated with sleep deprivation, not just dietary related.
To conclude, those who sleep longer have better metabolic profiles in comparison to those who sleep shorter duration’s. There are obviously many obstacles such as shift work and having children which may impact sleeping patterns however stimuli such as our phones and TV is an emerging factor that is playing havoc with peoples sleep and should therefore be better controlled. In the long run, short sleep is associated with reduced dietary quality and therefore, increases the risk of a whole range of conditions so ditch the phone and catch those extra zzz’s for optimum health 🙂