Sleep Your Way Thin?
Sleep and Weight – is there a connection between how much you snooze and how much you loose?
-Marie Dittmer, MA, RD, LN
Are you concerned about your weight lately? Are the numbers on the scale starting to creep up a bit? If so, you might take a look at your sleep habits.
A number of studies in recent years show a relationship between the number of hours slept and weight. It seems people who sleep the least are at a greater risk of being overweight or obese. The relationship appears to be strongest in children and young adults and then decreases as people get older.
That’s not good news for Americans. We live in a sleepy society where not getting enough zzz’s at night is very likely. According to the National Sleep Foundation, respondents in the 2009 Sleep in America poll slept an average of just six hours and 40 minutes on workdays, and seven hours and seven minutes on weekends – below the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
How might a lack of sleep affect our weight? Nobody knows exactly, but there are some good theories. First, a lack of sleep affects two hormones in the body – leptin and ghrelin -both of which have a role in regulating hunger cues. It’s plausible that if they aren’t working as they should we could crave and eat more food than we really need. With our defenses down it seems easier to pick up a bag of chips or a chocolate bar for a snack instead of washing an apple or peeling an orange.