Can lack of sleep make you fat?
On average we sleep nearly two hours less than we did fifty years ago. Why? Probably
because we stay up late watching television or we’re glued to an iPad or laptop late into the evening. Too often we snack or eat calorie-dense, sugary, processed food and drink alcohol too close to bedtime. This raises your blood sugar level and makes sleep difficult. The result is that we don’t get enough sleep – and what sleep we do get is unsatisfactory. We become sleep deprived, and that’s not good.
When you don’t get enough sleep – and it’s wise to try and get as near to 7 / hours’ sleep every night as you can – next day you’ll probably find it difficult to concentrate, and you may struggle to solve simple problems. You’ll be less alert, have memory lapses and you may find it difficult to reason effectively. Constant sleep deprivation can also lead to depression and to more serious diseases such as heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Yes, it’s true, lack of sleep makes you fat. Why? Because your body interprets lack of sleep as an energy deficiency. When you wake, your hunger hormone ghrelin is high and your energy storage hormone leptin is low.
At breakfast you are stimulated to put things right as quickly as possible. You crave something which will raise your blood sugar level quickly. The quickest way to do that? A slug of something sugary. This is the quickest way to get your blood sugar up and reduce your ghrelin and leptin levels. So when you appear at the breakfast table you gulp down a glass of deliciously sweet fruit juice and tuck into a heaped bowl of sugary cereal. Your blood sugar level shoots up. You feel better and your hunger pangs disappear.
However, within an hour or so of your breakfast the inevitable happens, as it always does after a sugar rush. Your blood sugar levels plummet, and soon you’re on the hunt for something sweet again. More often than not this leads to a day punctuated by frequent sugary snacks. You put on weight as a result.
What to do.