When you were younger, it probably felt like you could eat anything you wanted. Donuts, carrot cake, beer, none of these things seemed to affect your waistline too much. But now the older you get, the more and more difficult it has become to keep the pounds away or even lose some. Maybe you’ve even been frequenting the gym or have made yourself eat better, and it feels like nothing is working. Before you make any rash decisions about diet or supplements or crossfit, you should look to your bed, and ask yourself if you’re getting enough sleep.
A new study is showing that an expanding waistline could actually be the product of shrinking sleep. And, unfortunately, even those that think they’re getting enough sleep, could be losing much of it to sleep apnea.
Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain
Researchers in UK looked at data from 1615 adults who reported their sleep patterns and food intake. Originally studying the effects of diabetes, they also collected essential statistics, including height, weight, waist circumference, blood samples, and cholesterol.
What the results showed was that those who got less sleep experienced several negative health impacts, including weight gain. On average, those getting less sleep had a waistline that was about an inch larger. They also had lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL is considered the “good cholesterol” because higher levels have been shown to reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
What the Relationship Between Sleep and Weight?
One possible explanation for this weight gain could be eating habits, though this wouldn’t explain HDL levels or other negative side-effects that showed up in those with less sleep. What’s more likely is that poor sleep can affect a person’s ability to metabolize food, leading to more fat storage. Another possibility could be related to testosterone, a hormone that can affect the body’s metabolic rate, muscle retention, and fat burn.
Another recent study has found that skipping sleep can drastically lower your testosterone levels, which is why weightlifters always suggest going to bed early on a workout day.
Are You Getting Enough Quality Sleep?
This study gives us a clear recommendation for improving your weight and waistline: get more sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as that. Even if you think you’re spending enough time in bed, your body may have trouble getting the quality of sleep that it needs.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night, gasping for air? Do you feel tired in the morning even after getting 8 hours of sleep? If any of these describes you, it’s possible you have Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by disruptions or pauses in your body’s breathing cycle during sleep. While our body normally takes pauses, sleep apnea is characterized as 4 or more pauses in the breathing cycle during an hour, as this can lead to dangerous changes in the body’s blood oxygen levels. Not only could this be related to your weight, it can also increase your chances of heart attack and stroke.
Sleep apnea and obesity have a reciprocal relationship: they each make each other worse. As you gain weight, your apnea can worsen. But as your apnea worsens, it can also lead to weight gain. Sleep apnea treatment can break the cycle and set you free.