Research has shown there is a link between weight gain and sleep apnea. A study at Columbia University revealed that people who sleep five hours or less per night almost double their risk of becoming obese.
Moreover, research done at the University of Chicago Medical Center, along with other studies, indicates that sleep deprivation may be a key risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Hormones appear to be the link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. Loss of sleep increases your body's production of the hormone Ghrelin, which stimulates hunger.
Lack of sleep also also decreases the levels of the hormone Leptin, which signals your brain when your body doesn't require any more food.
The result of this imbalance make you feel hungry all the time and encourages over-eating. At the same time, it slows the rate at which your body burns the calories you're consuming.
To make matters worse, this imbalance also causes your blood sugar levels to rise, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
It's not just the physical changes caused by sleep deprivation that increase the risk of obesity in people who suffer from insomnia, sleep apnea, and other chronic sleep disorders. Getting too little sleep can also lead to behavioral changes that result in a tendency to gain weight.
For example, people who are chronically tired may suffer from depression that can lead to "comfort eating." The types of foods that provide this sort of solace (and may be the object of your cravings) are often high-fat, high-sugar foods. Being tired all the time can also mean that you're too tired to exercise regularly, if at all.
Complex Connection Between Gaining and Sleep Apnea
The relationship between weight gain and sleep apnea is fairly complex. While sleep deprivation has been shown to lower Leptin levels (the hormone that signals when you're no longer hungry), a high fat diet does the same thing.
Studies have also shown that people who are overweight are at a significantly greater risk of developing sleep apnea than people who are at a correct or below average weight.
To break this connection between weight gain and sleep apnea, you need to see your doctor about your sleep issues and find out if you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. Once you know the problem, you can get proper treatment and break the link causing your weight gain.
It's not only sleep apnea that seems to be linked to weight gain. Several studies suggest women who sleep poorly in general are at greater risk of gaining excess weight than their well-rested counterparts. For some reason, this doesn't seem to happen as readily with men.
Of course, although getting a good night's sleep will go a long way towards helping you take back control of your appetite, other changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are essential if you want to be trim and healthy.
Weight Gain and Sleep Apnea in Children
The link between weight gain and sleep apnea also affects kids. Childhood obesity is a growing concern,and studies done at the University of Michigan highlight the need for making sure kids get the recommended amount of sleep, every night.
These studies show that elementary school children who get too little sleep have up to a 40% greater risk of being obese by the time they enter middle school than their peers who get adequate sleep.
The optimum amount of sleep for a third grade child is around 9 1/2 to 10 hours per night. Less than that and your child could begin to pay the price.
Just like with adults, children have many other risk factors for obesity and the link between weight and sleep disorders is present. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle are all important factors in keeping your children (and YOU) strong and healthy.
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