Now, I have to be honest with you… When I first heard years ago that insomnia could make you fat, I was skeptical. After all, if you believe everything you hear, it would seem that just about everything these days makes you fat!
Case in point, last week, a friend of mine (who’s a very successful personal trainer in New York) was telling me how the chemicals from a new car leads to a decrease in your testosterone levels and an increase in your estrogen levels.
He went on to say that this change in your hormones leads to an increase in belly fat. I have a lot of fitness friends and they make these types of claims all the time. They talk about magical foods and supplements which “heal your gut”, “soothe your spleen” or “manage your blood sugar”.
The problem is that they’re often completely wrong!
My background is as a researcher and a biochemist. I studied at Harvard and I know that while my fitness friends believe in what they’re saying, when you get into the lab and test it, the research isn’t on their side. As a result, I was always skeptical when people said “insomnia makes you fat”.
If you’re skeptical too, I get it. However, in this case, my fitness friends are actually correct and the science is irrefutable. Let me show you some of this research.
Doctors have known for years that disrupted and interrupted sleep patterns are a primary cause of high blood pressure. I’m sure you’re already familiar with the many health problems of high blood pressure (HBP or “hypertension”) from damaged arteries, bursting or clogging blood vessels, kidney damage, eye strain, angina or sexual dysfunction. And this can also contribute to weight gain.
But the health problems of sleep deprivation don’t end there. A recent article published in The Lancet Diabetes; Endocrinology discovered a surprising link between the amount of sleep
patients got and the risk they carried for developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a pattern of health factors that dramatically raise the risk in patients for developing diabetes mellitus, stroke, and heart disease.
The onset of metabolic syndrome is also associated with a decrease in your body’s metabolism leading to an increase in waistline (abdominal obesity), a reduction in your body’s ability to process LDL cholesterol, and diabetes.
A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that seventy percent of patients reporting chronic insomnia develop metabolic syndrome and its associated health risks.
Here’s the most important thing: The report showed that by fixing your insomnia results in a SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION of metabolic syndrome! But enough of the jargon. Does insomnia make you fat or not?
Unfortunately, lack of sleep is directly correlated with an increase in hunger, appetite, and obesity. According to ab2008 study, adults who get less than six hours of uninterrupted sleep a night are 30% more likely to become obese. This is because there is a direct link between sleep and the peptides that govern feelings of hunger and satiation.
Ghrelin is the peptide that carries the the “hunger” signal from your gut to your brain while leptin sends the “I’m full, stop eating” message. Shortened sleep time has been demonstrated to cause massive increases in ghrelin and underproduction of leptin, which leads to overeating and
Ghrelin has also been shown to cause cravings for high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods, which is why adequate sleep is so often recommended as a core component of weight-loss programs.
The moral of the story is this: Yes, insomnia increases your probability of gaining weight.