Does Sleep Affect Your Metabolism and Weight?

Hormone imbalances can cause weight problems. Too much glucose, for example, will cause insulin spikes which in turn halts fat loss. Excessive estrogen in Women has also been shown to inflict weight control problems. In fact, balance in the human endocrine system is a key component to weight control and some successful diet programs such as the Zone capitalize on this well documented detail.

However, our hormone processes are far from simple and keeping them under control is not necessarily easy. But there are some things we can do to energize our endocrine, including getting our required sleep.

What many people don’t realize is that sleep is incredibly important – not only so we don’t feel awful in the morning, but also because a lack of sleep disrupts the effectiveness of our metabolic processes which could lead to weight control issues (amont other things).

Studies have found that glucose tolerance and carbohydrate metabolism ability is lower in sleep-debt conditions (those restricted to around 4-5 hours of sleep per night) relative to fully rested conditions.

Another recent study, done over 5 years, found that having less than 5 hours of sleep per night was related to a higher BMI compared to sleep durations of between 6 and 7 hours.

I’ve mentioned this in many previous posts – that sleep is critical to health, weight control and muscle growth. Get those 7 hours of sleep and if possible don’t feel bad about sleeping in even more over the weekend ;)

More Evidence that Lack of Sleep Kills

I’ve blogged about the importance of sleep numerous times now.  In my last sleep related post, I talked about a Tokyo based study which looked at how the lack of sleep could increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Today, an article from Reuters says that findings from a study lead by Francesco Cappuccio, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Warwick’s medical school found the same thing.  According to Reuters, the “17-year analysis of 10,000 government workers showed those who cut their sleep from seven hours a night to five or less faced a 1.7-fold increased risk of death from all causes and more than double the risk of cardiovascular death.”

With our increasingly stressful lives these days, we sometimes attempt to reduce our sleep time in an effort to complete the things we need or want to do.  Is there really anything that can be done about this?  In the face of the franticness of modern day life, is there a way to find enough time to sleep?  With all the technology available these days, one would suspect that our lives would be easier, giving us more leisure time and ultimately allowing us to get the rest we need.  So why, then, are people staying up later and later into the evening in order to get everything accomplished?

Waking Early Increases Vascular Risk?

via Bloomberg

I’ve alway envied people who are capable of getting up super early in the morning. So much extra time on their hands. Time to get up to date on the latest headlines or go for an early morning jog. I tried it a couple of times, but I couldn’t get used to running in the cold darkness that the early mornings presented.

But I tend to go to sleep later in the evening (around midnight), and getting as much rest as possible is super important for maintaining muscle and a healthy weight. However, there could, in fact, be more severe consequences for not sleeping in a little longer. A recent study from the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan suggests that “getting out of bed before 5 a.m. might be bad for your health” possibly increasing the risk of “heart attack and stroke”.

The study found that “people who habitually rose before 5 a.m. had a 1.7 times greater risk of high blood pressure and were twice as likely to develop hardening of the arteries.” While the age old saying, “the early bird gets the worm” may still hold true for individuals trying to get more time to do things, the saying should possibly be revised to include a disclaimer. “The early bird gets the worm (possible side effects include heart attack and stroke).”

No Time to Sleep? No Good.

With all of our busy lives these days - the long stressful workdays, families to be with, houses to fix up, appointments to meet, errands to run, and all that good TV, many times we find ourselves going to bed really late and waking up earlier than our body would like. Sometimes it gets so bad that we just try and push through the work week and look forward to sleeping in on the weekend to catch up on the lost Z’s. Thank goodness for coffee - our World would be faced with a zombie crisis if it weren’t for caffeine.


It’s unfortunate though. Sleep is important. We’re all mostly aware of that fact. Usually, however, we completely disregard it. Sleep is something that we more or less take for granted. In fact, I used to think of sleep as a waste of time. So many things to do and so little time, why would I want to sleep at all? Well, there are a bunch of reasons.

From a fitness perspective, sleep is important for muscle maintenance and growth. When you’re at the gym, lifting weights, muscle fibers are ripped and damaged (hence the pain you might sometimes feel). In order for muscles to repair themselves, sleep is needed. While sleeping (particular while in deep sleep), our bodies go into repair mode and rebuild the muscle. For bodybuilders, sleep is essential for muscle growth. Repair mode also requires substantial energy and depends on energy stores in our bodies. The energy stores include fat storage. In an indirect way, sleeping actually burns off calories.

Of course, there’s also the fact that the earlier and longer you’re in dream land, the less likely you are to spend any more of your day munching on chocolate bars or nachos. Sure, it’s an obvious point, but I’m sure there have been countless times that you found yourself raiding the fridge at midnight.

Besides the physical benefits of sleep, the mental benefits are huge. More sleep leads to higher levels of alertness and cognitive function. Taking a siesta in the afternoon has been shown to cause higher levels of productivity into the later parts of the working day.  Memories are are improved and better solidified during sleep. Your brain files daily events and works subconsciously on problems. I can recall numerous times when working on programming bugs when I would be getting absolutely nowhere to the point that I’d actually be moving backwards. I’d decide to call it quits and come back to it in the morning. I’d wake up, logon to the computer and fire up my code and almost instantly figure it out.

And then there are health reasons too. Your immune system and organs function immensely better when you get more sleep. It’s the reason why bed rest is next only to chicken soup when it comes to fighting a flu or a cold.

So the moral of the story is to get your sleep. If you find that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get enough sleep at night, re prioritize. Work at becoming more organized. Downgrade to basic cable. Set solid bedtimes for yourself. If you have to be awake by 7am, try to get to bed by 11pm. Aim for 8 hours a night. Once you get into the swing of a good sleep schedule, it will become a piece of cake (low cal cake, of course). You will feel way better, more productive, more alert, more energized and your body will thank you.