Have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the hormones leptin and ghrelin at work.
Leptin and ghrelin work hand in hand to control feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.
So what's the connection to sleep? "When you don't get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food," explains Michael Breus, PhD, a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta. The two combined, he says, can set the stage for overeating, which in turn may lead to weight gain. Carrying extra weight also desensitizes us to leptin.
Additional research shows that inadequate sleep (less than 8 hours, although some research says 6):
Interferes with the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates and causes high blood levels of glucose, which leads to higher insulin levels and greater body-fat storage.
Drives down leptin levels, which cause the body to crave carbohydrates.
Reduces levels of growth hormone, a protein that helps regulate the body's proportions of fat and muscle.
Can lead to insulin resistance and contribute to increased risk of diabetes.
Can increase blood pressure.
Can increase the risk of heart disease.
Even in young, healthy people, a sleep deficit of three to four hours a night over the course of a week can have a negative impact on the body. The power of sleep cannot be overlooked. Your health is a combination of many things, not just the food you put in your mouth or exercise. Start with getting a good night’s sleep!
If you missed my article on how to get a quality night sleep, check it out here.