How the Lack of Sleep per Night Can Affect Your Metabolism

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Besides making you feel and look tired, lack of sleep can also make you grumpy, affect your memory, sex life and other aspects of health. But besides these effects, sleep deprivation can also make it harder for you to lose weight.

You get sudden cravings for junk food

You may be wondering why this is the case. But if you think about it, it is not that strange. Look at the following scenario (it must have happened to you numerous times). A person (let’s say it’s a she) went to bed late, but tomorrow is a work day so she had to get up early and didn’t get the amount of sleep that she usually gets, the normal number of sleeping hours. Instead, she gets up and gets ready for work, but she can’t seem to wake up properly and feel energized. So she takes one cup of coffee. After that, there’s another one. And then the body that is sleep-deprived starts asking for energy which was denied to it by getting up too early (or going to sleep too late).

So where does it look for energy? In carbohydrates and fats. A tired person often gets sudden cravings for junk food and energy (sugary) drinks, as these are the kinds of ‘foods’ that get your energy levels high for a while. But they also give you inches on your waist if this starts happening too often. But gaining weight is not the biggest problem of sleep deprivation, and there are a number of conditions that it can cause.

Your metabolism changes for the worse


Sleep deprivation, besides making your urges for junk food stronger, it also disrupts your metabolism, so even if you are eating all the right kinds of food – you still might not be losing any pounds; in fact, you might even gain some. A recent study conducted at Weill Cornell Medical College in Quatar showed that sleeping only 30 minutes less than you should can affect your metabolism. The author of the study, and a professor of medicine at the mentioned college, Shahrad Taheri, said that even though in the modern days people often sleep less than they should, the consequences of sleep deprivation have just recently been discovered.

On the other hand, he says that sleeping enough every day often proves positive when it comes to losing weight and improving metabolism. This study showed that out of 522 participants, those who didn’t get enough sleep were at a 72% higher risk of being obese than those who slept enough. After six months of examining the participants, the results showed that besides becoming obese, many of those who didn’t sleep enough also developed sugar problems. The study also showed that with every 30 minutes that people deprived themselves of sleep the risk of obesity increased by 17%, and insulin resistance by 39%. This indicated that sleep deprivation can also lead to diabetes.

Sleep deprivation is a vicious circle

Dr. Suzan Zafarlotfi, who is also the clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, speaks about the vicious circle that is caused by sleep deprivation. Namely, because we reach for sugary and fatty foods to fight sleepiness and lack of energy, we constantly make bad food choices and later when we have the time to go to sleep – we are too wired because of the energy spikes that carbs and sugar gave us, so we actually can’t fall asleep. And then, the same happens the next day. But, as she says, “If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash”. You always pay the price for torturing your body and not sleeping enough.

However, sleeping enough on its own won’t make you lose weight, but it may help a lot. It will definitely help improve your metabolism and your body will generally function better than with less hours of sleep. So if you would like your body to work properly and be the best it can be – start sleeping more. At least 7 hours a night. After a while, your energy levels will be higher and you will notice just how much better you’re feeling.