Interestingly, one of the easiest weight maintenance rules to follow may be getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Mounting evidence shows that those struggling with weight gain may need to optimize their sleep schedules to see a more favorable number on the scale. It’s well known that controlled healthy eating and regular exercise are the top strategies for weight loss and maintenance. To avoid weight gain, prioritizing sleep may be considered an equally important approach, as inadequate sleep is associated with increased body weight and the risk for obesity. Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley who studies the effects of sleep on weight, has found that “getting a full night’s sleep is one of the most under-appreciated factors contributing to healthy weight maintenance.”
It appears that our sleep habits directly affect diet and appetite. Researchers at the University of Chicago compared those who slept only four and one-half hours to those who slept eight hours. They found that the those who skimped on sleep did not skimp on calories the next day. In fact, quite the opposite. The short sleepers consumed an additional 400 calories and ate twice the amount of fat and protein, as compared to those who slept an optimal eight hours. Sleep deprivation results in blood alterations of certain lipids, as well as appetite regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Controlled studies have shown that deficient sleep leads to decreases in leptin, the satiety hormone, while ghrelin, the hunger and appetite hormone, increases. Recently, it has come to light that less than optimal sleep also results in changes to a lipid known as 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2AG), an endocannabinoid.
The endocannabinoid system is a unique and ubiquitous cell-signaling system that is just beginning to be understood. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the discovery of endocannabinoids has led to studies on their potential involvement in the physiological control of appetite and energy metabolism. The findings of three large multicenter clinical trials strongly support a pathogenic role of increased endocannabinoid activity in obesity and associated metabolic abnormalities. Studies support that endocannabinoids play a key role in memory, mood, and the brain reward systems, as well as glucose metabolism and energy balance.
Epidemiologic studies established the link between sleep deprivation and its influence on energy balance and body weight regulation processes. While a longer wake cycle results in a slight increase in energy expenditure, it can lead to disproportionate calorie consumption, decreased physical activity and weight gain. The possible involvement of reward system mechanisms may trigger increased unhealthy food intake following sleep restriction. A randomized study showed sleep restriction resulted in increased circulating concentrations of 2AG, widely expressed in the brain’s reward centers and in metabolic organs that stimulate food intake and fat lipogenesis, the metabolic formation of fat.
- Habitual sleep loss is a major risk factor for weight gain and obesity. Generally, weight gain may occur when one gets fewer than seven hours of sleep nightly. When trying to lose or maintain weight, optimal amounts of healthy sleep may be just as crucial as diet and exercise.
- Poor sleep causes a disruption of appetite, reward and stress hormones, resulting in increased appetite and negatively affecting the ability to make healthy food choices and control portion sizes.
- Lack of sleep can result in daytime fatigue and deceased motivation to exercise. Sufficient healthy sleep helps to improve mental and physical performance.
- Adequate sleep can refresh brain circuits that allow for more optimal food choices, leading to weight control rather than weight gain.
- Just as inadequate sleep negatively affects energy levels, sufficient sleep can help provide the energy necessary for physical activity.
- The right amount of sleep encourages proper stress and appetite hormone regulation, as well as a healthy metabolism, the amount of energy the body burns to maintain all cellular processes.
- Adequate sleep, along with healthy diet and exercise, supports optimal health and decreased risk of developing obesity, diabetes type 2, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products to support healthy sleep and weight maintenance:
Kavinace Ultra PM by NeuroScience™: This top-selling sleep product specifically targets neurotransmitter imbalances with a unique combination of neurotransmitter precursors, herbal ingredients and enzymatic cofactors that provide effective support for restful sleep. Gluten, soy, yeast and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation.
Adipo-Leptin Benefits™ by DaVinci Laboratories of Vermont: This product offers evidence-based ingredients that support hormone balance relative to appetite and weight management. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
5-HTP Supreme™ by Designs for Health: This higher dosage product supplies vitamin B6 and 5-HTP in support of appetite control, reduced cravings, insomnia, improved mood and overall neurotransmitter metabolism. Wheat, soy, dairy and preservative free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation. This product is not recommended for those taking SSRI’s or MAO inhibitors.
Melatonin PR 3 mg Prolonged Release by Douglas Laboratories: This natural hormone nutrient helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, supports normal immune function, and provides free radical protection. One serving provides 3 mg of pure pharmaceutical grade melatonin in a prolonged release tablet. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, sugar and artificial ingredient free vegan formulation.
Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/molecular-ties-between-lack-sleep-weight-gain
The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/
Hungry for Sleep: A Role for Endocannabinoids? https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/39/3/495/2453912/Hungry-for-Sleep-A-Role-for-Endocannabinoids
Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24937041
Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake and weight gain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24937041
Does Your Sleeping Schedule Affect Your Metabolism? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/sleeping-schedule-affect-metabolism-8571.html
Sleep restriction leads to increased activation of brain regions sensitive to food stimuli. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22357722