In the era of nutritional and wellbeing awareness, it's no secret that all the processes of the body are interconnected.
Experts up till now have identified strong evidence to suggest that eating habits are crucial for the quality of sleep.
But what about the other way round?
Could your sleep quality, duration, and hygiene affect how much you eat?
Sleep and Hunger Hormone
The hunger hormone found in our body is called Ghrelin.
Its main function is to increase our appetite and induce the feeling of hunger.
Ghrelin also regulates glucose homeostasis (blood sugar regulation) and promotes fat storage.
On the other hand, a hormone called Leptin induces satiety or the feeling of fullness.
The levels of both these hormones significantly influence your eating habits.
Image: Hunger-regulating hormones
Research has shown that sleep patterns influence ghrelin levels.
When a person is asleep, the body reassures the brain that the existing energy levels are sufficient for the time being.
Hence, the ghrelin levels decrease, and at the same time, leptin levels rise.
A study has found a significant association between sleep duration and leptin and ghrelin levels, independent of age, sex, BMI, and other confounding factors.
A single night of disrupted sleep increases ghrelin levels and typically has no effects on leptin levels.
However, chronic sleeplessness results in the fall of leptin levels as well.
According to a report in the journal of the Public Library of Science, those who consistently slept for 5 or less hours a night had a significantly different profile of the hunger hormones than those who consistently slept for 8 hours.
These changes in the hormone levels ultimately lead to increased hunger and excessive eating, all of which may result in weight gain and obesity.
An Extra Hour Of Sleep Can Help Lower Calorie Intake
A randomized clinical trial was conducted to examine the effects of sleep extension on energy intake among overweight adults.
The results, published in JAMA Internal Medicine on the 7th of February, reported that the participants who slept for an extra 1.2 hours (72 minutes) per night reduced their energy consumption by 270 kcals per day.
Details of Study Participants
|No. of participants||80 adult men and women|
|BMI (Body Mass Index)||25.0-29.9|
|Mean sleep duration||6.5 hours|
|Race||Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, and White|
The Study Methods
The participants used an accelerometer-based monitor with an event marker to record their sleep-wake patterns.
During the 2-week baseline, the participants followed their habitual sleep duration.
At the end of two weeks, the participants chosen for sleep extension underwent a counseling session with a sleep hygienist.
The study investigators then advised this group of participants to extend their sleep duration to 8.5 hours.
On day 22, the participants returned for a brief follow-up and counseling session (if required).
The energy intake and storage were measured using the doubly labeled water method, a urine-based test.
The Study Results
- Participants belonging to the sleep extension group had a 1.2-hour increase from the mean sleep duration - compared to those in the control group.
- Sleep efficiency remained the same between both groups.
- Energy intake was significantly reduced by 270 kcal per day in the sleep extension group.
- Each 1-hour increase in sleep duration corresponded to a reduced energy intake of approximately 162 kcal per day.
- The participants in the sleep extension group also experienced a significant weight loss (avg. 0.87 kg) compared to the ones in the control group.
Sleep is a vital part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing a plethora of diseases.
Those who habitually sleep for seven hours or less can benefit in terms of weight loss when they extend their sleep duration.
- Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the satiety hormone, play an important role in regulating eating behavior.
- Acute sleep disruption leads to increased ghrelin levels, and chronic sleep disruption leads to reduced leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels.
- A study published in the JAMA Network reported that increasing sleep duration by 1.2 hours can reduce energy consumption by 270 kcal/day in individuals who are habituated to <7 hours of sleep.
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