Why Does Staying Up Late Make You Fat
If you want to prevent weight gain, its essential to get the right amount of sleep. Most people require 6-8 hours of sleep per night to stay healthy. Too little and too much sleep is associated with being overweight. People that sleep too little, and people that sleep too much, often have one thing in common they go to bed very late.
Staying up late is injurious for health because it interferes with our circadian rhythm . When we stay up late, two things usually happen:
- The duration of our sleep changes
- The quality of our sleep diminishes
Imagine you go to bed at around 10 pm and wake up at 6 am. Your body will be restored, your mind will be refreshed, and youll feel positive about the day ahead. Conversely, imagine youve delayed sleep until 1 am and had to get up at 6 am youll wake up feeling very tired indeed. Even if youre able to lie-in until 9 am, youll wake up feeling groggy and sluggish.
This is because going to bed late robs your body of good-quality restorative sleep. If the mind and body are unable to repair themselves, staying slim will be a struggle.
Theres Lots Of Research Showing Links Between Sleep And Food Choices
Back in 2011, the NHS examined research and subsequent media coverage showing a link between poor sleep and weight. The American study investigated the relationship between sleep, stress and peoples attempts at weight loss. It also drew upon previous research showing a link between poor sleep and obesity. The NHS conclusion? While there were potential issues with the study, the results made sense: It seems intuitive that if someone is not sleeping well and is under stress, then sticking to a weight-loss programme will be more difficult, they said.
As the years have rolled on, further research has emerged, and it seems to show similar results.
If youre sleep-deprived, we know youre potentially more emotionally fragile, so youre more likely to make impulsive food choices, says clinical diabetologist Professor Eleanor Scott of the University of Leeds. A typical situation would be when people have small children who are awake in the night theyre going to crave carbohydrate-rich foods the next day. They give us an instant energy boost when were feeling tired and make us feel good. We know sugar makes us feel better, but its only a temporary fix. So, sleep deprivation alters our emotional choices.
/7drink A Casein Protein Shake
The slow-release protein is gradually digested over eight hours and keeps your metabolic fires burning through the night.
Casein is a slow-digesting dairy protein that is consumed as a supplement. It releases amino acids slowly and people take it before bed to help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown while sleeping.
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What Tired Swedish Men Can Tell Us About Our Food Habits
A recent study in Sweden looked at the effects of sleep deprivation on the grocery shopping habits in a group of men. After a night of either normal sleep or restricted sleep, the men were sent food shopping. In their sleep-deprived state, they bought significantly more food and their choices were more calorie-rich than when not sleep-deprived15.
What this illustrates nicely is that we are programmed to search out more calories when we are sleep-deprived. Not only do we eat more, what we choose to eat is also affected. Several studies have demonstrated that when we are sleep-deprived, we crave more calorie-dense foods 9.
If you think about it, how often after a bad sleep do you crave a healthy salad over something satisfying, comforting and calorie-rich?
In yet another brain-imaging study, participants were either allowed to sleep as normal or kept awake for 24 hours . They were then shown images of food and asked to rate them in terms of how much they wanted to eat them15.
The sleep-deprived participants were significantly more likely to choose high-calorie foods over healthy foods. How much someone favoured calorie-rich food over healthy food was proportional to how sleep-deprived they were.
What was happening in their brains was that regions of the frontal cortex â important for decision making â showed reduced activity. Making complex decisions was harder.
It seems like a pretty hopeless situation. But thereâs one simple fix.
So Why Do We Reach For The High
Itâs probably a behaviour banked from way back in our evolution.
A sleep-deprived caveman may have needed the extra energy to keep alert to danger. However, in our modern world, where calorie-rich food is abundant, and dangerous beasts less so, this behaviour now backfires on us.
The exact mechanisms governing sleep and weight gain are not completely understood. But there is a wealth of data that shows how sleep deprivation alters biological processes in our bodies, how our brain functions and how we behave in our day to day lives. Looking at the the various components, then, we see that in the:
- Pleasure and rewards centre signalling is enhanced â
- Low leptin makes feelings of fullness decrease â
- High ghrelin makes feelings of hunger increases â
- Less inclined to exercise â
- More inclined to sit and do nothing â
While it makes it easier to see the different effects by grouping into these three separate categories, in reality all three interact. The body sends chemical signals to our brain. Our brain processes these messages and we react in certain ways.
Now, weâll look in greater detail at whatâs known about how sleep deprivation affects our bodies and minds, as well as how the interaction between them can play havoc with our weight.
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Lack Of Sleep Can Make Dieters Lose Muscle Instead Of Fat
People who are on a low-calorie diet will lose the same amount of weight whether they sleep an average of 8.5 hours or 5.5 hours each night. However, those on 8.5 hours will lose much more fat, while those on 5.5 hours lose mainly muscle, instead of fat, according to an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers, from the University of Chicago stress that adequate sleep is a key contributor to managing body weight.
The investigators advise those planning to start a weight-loss program to try to make sure they know they are going to get enough sleep each night.
Ten overweight males and females lived in a sleep research center for two separate periods, lasting two weeks each. During each period they were on identical low calorie diets. However, during the first 2 week period they had 8.5 hours sleep each night, while in the second period they slept just 5.5 hours each night.
Although sleep duration was found not to affect the total amount of weight loss they all lost an average of nearly 7 pounds the dieters lost mainly muscle rather than fat during their sleep-deprived two-week session.
The researchers found that:
- While on 8.5 hours sleep each night over 50% of the participants weight loss consisted of fat
- While on 5.5 hours sleep each night, approximately 25% of the participants weight loss consisted of fat in other words, they lost 55% less fat than when they were sleeping 8.5 hours
The authors concluded:
Drinking Water At Bedtime
You can drink a glass of water at any time of day to control your calorie intake. The Ask Dr. Sears website recommends drinking plenty of water throughout the day to suppress cravings for unhealthy, high-calorie foods. If you tend to crave unhealthy foods, such as cookies or ice cream, at bedtime, you might want to gulp down a glass of water until the craving subsides and you can drift off to sleep.
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Sleep Deprivation And Fighting Off Cravings
If you find that saying no to less nutritious food is more difficult when youre short on sleep, youre not alone.
Results from a small 2016 randomized controlled trial found that a lack of sleep can increase your desire to eat more high calorie foods and decrease your ability to resist them.
More specifically, researchers found that less sleep altered levels of endocannabinoid, which are chemical signals that affect your appetite and your brains reward system.
This was most notable on the days participants were sleep-deprived, when endocannabinoid levels were both higher and lasted longer, particularly in the afternoon.
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Other research has also linked being a night owl to mood swings, depression and addiction due to disrupted sleep patterns.
A major study of more than 64,000 women in 2016 also found that owls have a significantly raised risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they have to work shifts that start early.
The increased risk may possibly be due to long-term inflammation in the body, which is a known cause of type 2 diabetes.
So what’s the best way to protect yourself?
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and try to get to bed a little earlier every night.
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How Does Sleep Affect Weight Loss
Contrary to what you may think, your body isnt inactive while you sleep, its hard at work. While you snooze, your body repairs cells and tissues, clears out toxins and impurities, and burns calories. An average 150-pound person burns a whopping 440 calories over a seven-hour night of restan equivalent of a 30- to 40-minute jog on the treadmill! Plus, if you work out or try fasted exercise, sleep increases your muscles blood flow to aid repair and recovery.
A lack of sleep can severely deter your weight loss efforts. Several of your hormones and critical bodily functions rely on a steady, seven-hour per night sleep schedule to perform. In particular, your appetite, metabolism, stress levels, and fat cells all require a full nights rest to aid in your weight loss journey.
Check out how your sleeping patterns can assist in weight loss:
It’s Important To Keep The Sleep
Over the years, Ive treated hundreds of patients who struggle with both sleep and weight issues. Many of them are women. From patients, I often hear: Im not sleeping well. And I cant seem to lose the extra weight.
In my second book, The Sleep Doctors Diet Plan, I discuss how sleep affects appetite, digestion, and metabolism. There are some pretty powerful connections between sleep and weightand improving sleep can be one important tool in maintaining a well-functioning circadian rhythm and a healthy weight.
During several interviews, Ive been asked, Are sleeping pills the new diet pills? I thought this was an odd question, but put into context, what people were really asking was: If I have insomnia and it is preventing me from losing the weight I wantwhich increases my anxiety and prevents me from sleepingand I take a sleeping pill to get 6-8 hours of sleep, will that be helpful and healthy?
The answer to that question lies in one keyword: healthy.
I was disturbed to read recent news about a diet fad that involves using sleeping pills and excessive sleeping to lose weight . The article suggests that this diet fadwhich is being called narcorexia is new. But Im not so sure. Even a quick look at websites where people talk about eating disorders suggests that these practices may have been around for a while, under the radar. Whether this is a new trend or one thats escalating, its both shocking and worrisome.
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Activate Your Bodys Thinning Fats
It might surprise you to learn there isnt just one type of fatand certain kinds of fat actually work to burn energy, rather than storing it. Brown fat and beige fat both appear to have significant metabolic benefits. In contrast to white fat, these so called thinning fats burn calories, help keep insulin working properly, help regulate blood sugar, and guard against obesity. Studies in mice show that animals with higher amounts of brown fat are leaner, and have better metabolic health. Research involving humans has shown brown fat is linked to lower body mass. On the other hand, a lack of brown fat in mice is associated with higher insulin resistance, higher blood sugar, and diabetes. Scientists recently discovered beige fat activates a protein that works to burn calories and generate heat in the body, and may have significant benefits in combating obesity and metabolic disorders.
What do these metabolically beneficial fats have to do with sleep? Sleep can contribute to the increase of these good fats in at least a couple of ways. Research has shown that the sleep hormone melatonin contributes to the increase of both brown fat and beige fat. Regularly getting enough high-quality sleep, sticking to a consistent sleep-wake cycle, and protecting daily circadian bio rhythms from disruption are all ways to encourage your bodys natural melatonin production, which may help your body make more of these weight-loss promoting fats.
May Help You Make Better Food Choices
Getting a full nights sleep may help you make healthier food choices.
Lack of sleep alters the way your brain works and can affect decision making. This may make it harder to make healthy food choices and resist tempting foods .
In addition, it appears that the reward centers of the brain are more stimulated by food when you are sleep deprived .
For example, one study found that sleep deprived participants had greater reward-related brain responses after viewing images of high calorie foods. Interestingly, they were also more likely to pay more for food than those who had adequate sleep .
Therefore, after a night of poor sleep, not only is that bowl of ice cream more rewarding, but youll likely have a harder time practicing self-control.
Another study showed that sleep deprivation led to increased smell sensitivity to high calorie foods and greater consumption .
Furthermore, lack of sleep may lead to poorer food choices, such as a higher intake of foods high in calories, sugar, and fat, to compensate for feeling a lack of energy .
Poor sleep can decrease your self-control and decision making abilities, as well as increase your brains reaction to food. Poor sleep has also been linked to an increased intake of foods high in calories, fats, and sugar.
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If You Think You Have Insomnia
Dr Dimitri Gavriloff, a clinical psychologist who specialises in sleep medicine for app Sleepio, explains that insomnia is classified as struggling to fall asleep or stay a sleep at night, for longer than three days a week and for more than three months, and impacting on your ability to manage during the day.
If you fall into this category, the first-line treatment recommendation is CBTI Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia.The therapy focusses on different behavioural treatments, one of which is stimulus control therapy, which aims to re-establish a healthy association between being in bed and being asleep.
For people with insomnia, the bed often becomes associated with feelings of restlessness and being awake, so this is a means of trying to re-establish a good bed-sleep association.
This treatment comes with five instructions, covering everything from not taking your work to bed, to following a quarter-of-an-hour rule, where you avoid staying in bed if youre not asleep and only go back to bed when your sleepiness has returned.
As part of CBTI, a therapist may also advise sleep restriction therapy, where you reduce the amount of time spent in bed to the hours you are sleeping and then slowly increase it again. And cognitive therapy, which is more about challenging unhelpful thoughts and psychological patterns people have.
Sleep Deficiency And Disease Risk
If you experience continued sleep deprivation, you will develop a condition called sleep deficiency. This is a state in which you cannot make up the many lost hours of sleep. Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and even early death.
Several studies show that sleep deprivation is a risk factor for obesity. A Nursesâ Health Study found an association between those who slept the least and having the highest BMI and greatest weight gain. One reason may be a disruption in appetite hormones that regulate feelings of hunger versus satisfaction . Ghrelin levels rise while leptin levels drop with lack of sleep this can cause higher calories to be consumed due to experiencing strong hunger at the same time that one feels less satiated after eating. A preference for foods high in fat and carbohydrate has been observed. The risk of hunger also increases simply by being awake longer, which prolongs the time from the last meal eaten to bedtime. Insufficient sleep also can trigger the ârewardâ areas in your brain to crave high fat, high caloric foods.
Other effects of poor sleep include increased fat storage in the belly area, higher body mass index, poorer quality diet, and decreased insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, some studies have also shown that longer sleep times are also associated with developing belly fat compared with sleeping 7-8 hours a night.
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How Much Sleep Do We Need
Sleep needs change as we age, with the average person generally requiring less sleep at older ages. However, specific sleep amounts vary by individual. According to the National Sleep Foundation and American Academy of Sleep Medicine , newborns need the most sleep, at 14-17 hours a day, followed by infants at 12-16 hours a day including naps. Toddlers need about 10-14 hours a day. Preteens and teenagers need about 8-12 hours a night, and adults about 7-8 hours a day. A consensus by the AASM and Sleep Research Society recommends that adults should sleep 7 or more hours a night to promote optimal health.
Despite these general recommendations on sleep duration, individual differences in sleep requirements exist. In most epidemiologic studies, increased risk of adverse health outcomes such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, has been observed among those who reported sleeping 5 hours or less per day, and 9 hours or more per day. Thus, a range of sleep hours is considered appropriate for most healthy adults.
What about supplements, medicines, and other therapies for sleep?
Valerian contains small amounts of GABA, a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter, and some studies have shown that valerian can improve sleep. However, other studies have found no difference in sleep when taking valerian compared with placebo, and there appears to be minimal benefit in those who have diagnosed insomnia. The AASM does not recommend valerian for insomnia disorder.