Normally people require seven to nine hours sleep. People, who sleep less than the required number of hours of sleep, are likely to suffer from a wide variety of health problems. This includes tendency to overeat and therefore, such sleep deprived people become obese. They also run the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. People, who suffer from sleep deprivation, become fatigued. This fatigue is mistaken for hunger and therefore, tired people tend to eat regardless of need.
Obesity is a vicious cycle
A survey of nearly 80,000 people undertaken in America showed that nearly 33% of the people with sleep debt became obese while only 22% of the people who slept normally became obese. These studies reveal two interesting points. One interesting aspect is that sleep deprivation can lead to obesity. That people who sleep normally also become obese, indicates that more than one factor is operating in the onset of obesity. Thus, leading an inactive life may contribute to obesity and this may be exacerbated if you also suffer from lack of sleep. Actually, obesity is a vicious cycle. If you have obesity, there is every chance of you suffering from sleep apnea, a condition where breathing is arrested momentarily. Sleep apnea can produce disturbed sleep and this in turn, would produce fatigue. Fatigue leads to eating without need and further increases the obesity. The only way of controlling obesity is not to become obese.
Hormones and obesity
The role of hormones in promoting obesity in sleep deprivation is also important. Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells and influences the eating behavior. Leptin produces the ‘stop eating’ signal at the hypothalamus of the brain where the satiety center is located. Ghrelin is the hormone produced by the stomach cells and also acts at the hypothalamus. It is called the hunger hormone because is capable of producing the sensation of hunger. Thus, ghrelin promotes eating. In sleep deprived people, the circulating levels of leptin are decreased while the levels of ghrelin are increased. Thus, if you have sleep debt, the hormones also tell you to eat.