How a lack of sleep leads to a set of fat mass

A sleep deficit can destroy your exercise. But did you know that lack of sleep can also worsen the composition of the body? Read the article, and immediately go to bed!

Author: Adam Flanagan

What do the people in developed countries have against sleep? The average length of sleep decreased from 8 hours in 1960 to 6,5 hours these days, with 30% of middle-aged people saying that they sleep less than 6 hours at night. People do not realize that while the mind is resting in sleep, the body continues to work uninterrupted, aimed at maintaining health and balance.

If you are attentive to nutrition, to the quality of your diet, to the constitution and composition of the body, you need to also be attentive to sleep. Sleep not only regulates billions of physiological processes, but also has a direct effect on appetite and hunger, and, therefore, on the composition of the body.

The less you sleep, the more you eat

To understand how sleep influences mass gain, you need to understand how hunger is different from appetite. The source of hunger is the body's need for energy and nutrients – this is a physiological need. Appetite is an emotional need – it is the desire to eat, which arises regardless of whether the body needs food or not. Sleep deprivation introduces confusion into the relationship between hunger and appetite.

In 2004, scientists conducted the following experiment, in which 12 healthy people with normal weight participated. Each night, they limited the duration of sleep 4,5-5 for hours, but continued to monitor the caloric content of the diet and physical activity. The researchers found that with a lack of sleep at 18%, the level of leptin, a hormone that signals satiety (satiety) was reduced. Worse, lack of sleep at 28% increased the concentration of ghrelin, a hormone that signals about hunger.

Such changes in the hormonal background do not compensate each other. It turns out that the level of the hormone increases, which tells us that we are hungry (ghrelin), and at the same time decreases the secretion of the hormone, which helps control the appetite (leptin).

Fatigue affects the amount and quality of food

The relationship between the duration of sleep and the need for more calories in wakefulness is easy to explain. If you sleep less, you stay awake longer, and in a waking state the body expends more energy than in a dream. The problem is that the changes in leptin and ghrelin levels caused by lack of sleep force people to consume far more calories than they need.

Deficiency of sleep can also affect the quality of foods that appear on your table, and at meal times. Unsleeped and tired people are more attracted to foods with a lot of carbohydrates. They often snack with sweets a day after a sleepless night, they often eat carbohydrate food in the evenings.

Studies have shown that the reception of energy-rich food in the evening hours can lead to weight gain. At this time of day, metabolism begins to slow down, as the degree of activity decreases. With slow metabolism, the body does not need all the energy that you get with high-calorie food, and it stores it in the form of fat.

In 2010, a team of scientists studied the relationship between sleep and the amount of fat in the body. For two weeks they watched a group of 10 men and women with excess weight or obesity who slept either for 5,5 hours or 8,5 hours each night, while adhering to a diet with 10% calorie deficit.

Since the caloric content of the diet was under control, all subjects lost approximately the same amount of weight. That's only members of the group who slept for 5,5 hours, lost more dry weight and less fat, compared to the control group. When you are working on a physique, such changes are the last thing you need.

Another study examined the effect of sleep deficiency on 19 healthy men and women who usually slept 7-7,5 hours every night. Some men were allowed to continue to adhere to such a regime. The rest was reduced to sleep for 90 minutes for three weeks. (All participants of the experiment continued to adhere to the usual diet and slept at home.)

During the first week, men and women who slept less than laid, lost more weight than the control group. But over the next two weeks their weight steadily increased. This led to the conclusion that while in many experiments the effect of a sharp reduction in sleep duration (for example, only 4-5,5 hours per night) is studied, a systematic, albeit less pronounced, sleep deficit can affect the body weight even more.

The third experiment showed that an increase in the duration of sleep at 1 hour in combination with a moderate restriction of caloric intake resulted in a reduction in fat mass at 0,7 kg.

How much do you really need to sleep?

A huge number of facts indicate that the average adult should sleep about 7-9 hours every night. Most of the respondents who participated in the sleep experiments said they needed about 7,5 hours of night sleep to feel good during the day. And what about you? Do you get the sleep time that is necessary for crushing workouts?

If the lack of sleep does not allow you to improve and achieve fitness goals, develop a game plan in which the time spent in bed will work for a diet and health, not against them.

6-7 hours is my norm. For 10 years I have kept 95 kg and 12% of subcutaneous. The main thing is if you are tired at work, allow yourself to sleep even though all day long at the weekend.


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