If you are trying to lose weight and stick to a diet, an important thing to do is make sure you get good quality shut-eye time! Getting enough sleep can help you maintain your diet and decrease your cravings. Now to understand this more, let us look at two key hormones leptin and ghrelin.
Short sleep duration has been linked to reduced levels of leptin and elevated levels of ghrelin (1). Now, why do this matter to you, your sleep and weight loss?
Let us first look at why reduced levels of leptin are not ideal. Leptin is a hormone that is crucial to appetite and weight control. Leptin is sometimes called the satiety hormone. It helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger hunger responses when it does not need energy (3). However, when levels of the hormone fall, which happens when an individual doesn’t get adequate sleep, the lower levels can trigger increases in appetite and food cravings. This, in turn, can make weight loss more difficult.
So, what about the hormone ghrelin. Why does having elevated levels of ghrelin not ideal for weight loss? The hormone ghrelin is often termed the “hunger hormone.” Ghrelin is central to appetite and is produced in your gut, then travels to your brain and sends a signal that will make you feel hungry (4). Ghrelin serves many purposes, but the one most commonly talked about is its ability to stimulate appetite, causing an individual to consume more food and store more fat (2).
Now leaving all the endocrinology talk behind you can see clearly why it is important to get good regular sleep to help you with your weight loss. Regular good sleep will help regulate these hormones and reduce your cravings and feeling hungry. When we are busy working and neglect our sleep this has many negative consequences that ultimately reduce our quality of life.
1. Patel, SR and Hu, FB. Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review. Obesity 16: 643–653, 2008.
2. Schmid, SM, Hallschmid, M, Jauch‐Chara, K, Born, J, and Schultes, B. A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. J Sleep Res 17: 331–334, 2008.
3. Spiegel, K, Tasali, E, Penev, P, and Cauter, EV. Brief Communication: Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite. Ann Intern Med 141: 846–850, 2004.
4. Taheri, S, Lin, L, Austin, D, Young, T, and Mignot, E. Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLOS Med 1: e62, 2004.