Sleep Deprivation, Apnea and Weight Gain
· Sleep deprivation causes changes in certain hormones that may lead to overeating and weight gain. Sleep apnea is a key factor in sleep deprivation.
· Sleep deprivation activates a small part of the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that also is involved in appetite regulation. Two critical hormones involved in regulating food intake are:
• Ghrelin: this is an appetite-stimulating peptide released mostly by the stomach. When ghrelin levels are up, people feel hungry.
• Leptin: this is considered a satiety or fullness hormone that is released by the fat cells and informs the brain about the current energy balance of the body. When leptin levels are high, that sends a message to the brain that the body has enough food, and hence the person feels full. Low levels indicate starvation and increase appetite.
· Both leptin and ghrelin levels are markedly dependent on sleep duration. In fact, poor sleep results in lower leptin levels and higher ghrelin levels. During periods of sleep deprivation for example, low leptin levels inform the brain there is a shortage of food. This in turn causes an increase in appetite.
· Researchers at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, found that sleep-deprived men:
• Who had the biggest hormonal changes also said they felt the hungriest and craved carbohydrate-rich foods, including cakes, candy, ice cream, pasta and bread.
• Those who had the smallest changes reported being the least hungry.