21 Dec How Sleep Deprivation Causes Weight Gain
Sleep is necessary for every function in the body. So it’s no wonder that sleep deprivation is linked to many medical problems. Lack of sleep leads to deficits in cognitive functioning and makes it difficult for our bodies to repair itself. When we’re not getting enough sleep, our bodies are more prone to factors that contribute to weight gain. If you’re wondering why you can’t seem to lose those last five pounds, it could be your sleeping habits.
When we don’t get enough sleep, the body increases the amount of cortisol it produces. Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases appetite. To combat this increase in cortisol, we naturally seek out serotonin, a hormone that relieves stress. The easiest and quickest source of serotonin is food high in fat and calories, which explains why it’s so hard to choose a salad when you’re tired.
Sleep deprivation also causes an inability to process sugar. When sleep deprived, the mitochondria in our cells will begin to shut down. If the mitochondria shut down, they are unable to process the sugar in the blood. When sugar stays in the blood, it results in high blood sugar and eventually insulin resistance.
Cortisol and serotonin aren’t the only hormones that go nuts when the body needs sleep. When we lose sleep, the body goes into survival mode. It thinks, “I haven’t slept, so there must be danger nearby!” Because the body thinks it’s in danger, our metabolism will slow down so that we can maintain as many resources as possible. We also see a spike in ghrelin – a hormone that tells us we are hungry – and a decrease in leptin -a hormone that tells us we are full. In other words, because the body feels like it’s in danger when sleep deprived, the body’s focus switches from using energy to gaining and conserving as much of it as possible.
This is disheartening news for sleep apnea patients. Often obesity is the number one contributing factor to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in turn leaves you feeling sleep deprived. Being sleep deprived then causes more weight gain which makes sleep apnea worst. It’s a vicious and deadly cycle.
If you are not sleeping well, we can screen for signs of obstructive sleep apnea and help you get the treatment you need. CPAP machines with mask and hoses are usually what people think about when it comes to obstructive sleep apnea, but they are not the only treatment option. We can work with your sleep specialist or your Primary Care doctor to fit you for a dental appliance, which looks much like an orthodontic retainer, to keep your respiratory system open and free from blockage. To learn more about sleep apnea, give us a call at (662) 823-7900!
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