How Can Sleep Disorders Affect Your Metabolism and Calorie Burning Capacity

Impact of sleep disorder on your metabolism

Your body functioning is regulated by proper sleep cycle and eating habits. Sleep disorders can disrupt your metabolism and have an impinging effect on your daily activities.

It seems quite unlikely that we burn fat while sleeping. Surprising! Isn’t it? But it is true.

We are burning calories even while sleeping. Your body is designed to function with all the vital activities necessary for the sustenance of life.

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Even when you are at rest or not performing any sort of physical activity, your body is able to lose calories.

This is possible as your body is operating continuously without any pause and carrying out all the  involuntary activities such as digestion, absorption, assimilation etc.

That means. although you hit the sack, your nervous system still keeps functioning, your heart pumps the blood, and so does your lungs allow respiration.

All the cells in the body are functioning to live even while asleep. The more hours you spend sleeping, the more calories burned while sleeping.

So if you spend a greater amount of your time sleeping, your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep will be more enhanced resulting in tremendous calories burned during sleeping.

Your brain cells use glucose as a fuel during sleep and your body burns calories while sleeping.  Brain is  most active while the rest of the body goes on a brief phase of respite during sleep.

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Interestingly, your brain enters a transient state of REM activity while your body rests. The sleep you go into, governed by the brain, is of two kinds, SWS or slow wave sleep, and REM or rapid eye movement.

SWS is characterised as deep sleep, while REM occurs when you start dreaming in your sleep. REM lets your body muscles become paralyzed for a temporary period accompanied with deep breathing and heavy beating of the heart.

The number of calories burned while sleeping depends upon the amount of REM sleep, out of the total time you spend sleeping.

Your REM sleep determines calories burned sleeping when your brain comes into the active stage and dreams take place as a result.

You will be astounded to know that your body loses oodles of fat while you are dozing off.

The scientific mechanism underlying this fact involves the involvement of two hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is responsible for lowering your appetite and stabilizes the energy levels.

On the contrary, your ghrelin hormone triggers your eating stimuli and gives you hunger craving.

Studies have brought to light that the subjects who underwent this experiment had rising levels of leptin and considerably lower levels of ghrelin which regulated their appetite.

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain

Not sleeping adequately at night can impact your dietary consumption.

Subsequently, you end up digging in unhealthy food, especially foods rich in carbohydrates and excessive sugars.

Such foods will make you feel good temporarily and lift your mood but the excess carbs and fats in them make you gain weight in no time.

How lack of sleep results in gaining weight

Lack of sleep or Insomnia,is a common medical condition, causes weight gain. It can hamper your thinking capacity and you might end up taking wrong decisions or choices about anything, in terms of lifestyle, food etc.

If you do not get sufficient sleep, you would end up craving for more food often and thus do binge eating.

This would cause a significant gain in  weight  in people who sleep a little less than the recommended duration.

On an average  a normal person requires 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you are sleeping less or more than the recommended time, you are at a risk of running into health hazards.

Perhaps you could be inviting yourself to many health troubles that come with the intervention of sleep cycle.

Correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain

Lack of sleep makes you feel drained of energy and in turn, you perform less activity as you will feel sluggish.

You will reach for your favourite sandwich loaded with extra cheese or a shot of caffeinated beverage to awaken yourself.

Whichever route you take, you just end up adding an inch extra to your waistline.

drained of energy
drained of energy

Sounds disturbing but it is true. With sleep deficit, you get hooked on to your comfort food not caring much about the calorie intake.

Hence it leads to abrupt weight gain caused by lack of sleep which is neglected by most of the people.

With lack of sleep, your cortisol level shoots up which is responsible for increasing your food appetite.

Cortisol then affects the levels of ghrelin hormone which makes you reach out for unhealthy lifestyle choices from lack of sleep

Sleep disorders could also influence your cognitive power and thus impact your overall personality.

Lack of sleep leads to more allostatic overload

Allostatic overload implies the physiological changes to the body brought about by exposure to chronic stress.

Lack of sleep has a profound effect on the cumulative allostatic overload. Changes in brain functioning caused by chronic stress can have a direct or indirect impact on the physiological mechanism of allostasis.

Experiments have shown that allostatic overload causes atrophy of neurons of the hippocampus, responsible for memory, selective attention resulting from chronic stress.

It has also come to light that chronic stress could also deteriorate neurons of the amygdala, a brain region involved in anxiety and fear. You will become anxious easily and your decision-making ability will be directly affected.

When the levels of ghrelin hormones get disturbed in the body, your body, as a result, craves for food. Your body has a propensity to choose the food you like in order to lift your mood rather than making a healthy choice.

As a result, you consume those foods that are immensely full of carbs or fat as they make you feel better for the time being. It just leads you one step closer to permanent weight gain.

Sleep disorders also slow down your metabolism as there is a reduction in leptin hormone that suppresses the food appetite. The decline in leptin means your hunger gets more triggered which may be an impediment if you want to lose calories.

Some Interesting Facts about Sleep:

  • Humans are the only animals that delays sleep deliberately.
  • Sleep Apnea is a condition characterized by difficulty in breathing during sleep.
  • Humans can take cat naps with their eyes open without even knowing it.
  • Exercise can help you get sound sleep. But make sure you do not exercise before going to bed since it can make difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Insomnia, difficulty in falling asleep, can be caused by physical or mental ailments, family history, stress, working in shifts, food diet, exercise practice, surroundings.
  • People getting insufficient sleep, experience more hunger cravings than normal since there is a decline in leptin hormone which controls appetite.



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