Why do we gain weight when we don’t sleep?One of the reason why we start to put on weight if we don’t get enough sleep is because our body’s cortisol levels are going to be too high. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is a fight or flight response. It affects the levels of our blood sugar, it affects the food choices we make and large amounts lead to long term storage of fat in our bellies. If you are not getting enough sleep each night and your trying to lose weight you are making it more difficult for yourself to lose weight. Even if you are working out at the gym, its not the workout that makes you better, it’s the rest and rebuilding that occurs during sleep that makes the magic happen. What happens to your brain when it doesn’t get enough sleep? The performance of your brain suffers when you don’t get enough sleep. For example, you are going to find that your decision making is worst as a result of lack of sleep. 1) Lowered Impulse Control This is because the performance of your frontal lobe is reduced. Your frontal lobe controls your decision making and impulse control. The lack o clarity is similar to when you are drunk and you just want to eat anything as a result of the lowered impulse control you experience. 2) Your brains reward centers are more active Fatigue causes your brain to seek something that can make you feel good. In ordinary circumstances you may be able to resist sweet foods, but its more difficult when your tired. We know this because studies have shown that people that are sleep starved experience a greater desire to snack late at night compared to people who are well rested. Sleep starved people also have a greater desire to eat foods high in carbohydrates and fats compared to people that have had sufficient sleep. Lastly, there are studies that have shown that being sleep deprived causes you to eat bigger portions, and craved energy dense foods. When you think about why we sleep, it makes sense that you would want to eat more if you haven’t slept well. We need to sleep to repair and balance the body.Sleep is a crucial part of recharging are energy levels. If your energy levels are low through lack of sleep it makes sense that your body would try to find that energy from food. After-all, that is what food is for. Energy! 3) Hunger Hormones You have two hormones called leptin and Ghrelin which tell your body when your hungry or full. Ghrelin is released and signals to the brain that your body needs food. When you have had enough food and you are full your body releases leptin so that your body stops eating food. During sleep deprivation your body has a higher amount of Ghrelin and a lower amount of leptin. This means that you are more likely to feel hungry and your brain will find it difficult to receive a signal telling it to stop eating food.
How much is enough sleep?8 hours is considered to be enough sleep for everyone. However, this may differ from person to person. Some people may need more others will need less. Scientists have determined the best amount of sleep by separating people into 3 distinct groups. Group 1 had four hours, group 2 six hours and group 3 had eight hours of sleep. Scientists discovered that the two groups that had less then 8 hours of sleep had slower cognitive function and that the group that had only 4 hours of sleep were falling a sleep during tests. This means that sleep duration and sleep quality are both important to your bodies recovery. I would determine good sleep to be 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, as this will allow you to go through all the different stages of sleep. What are the different stages of sleep? The different stages of sleep differ according to heart rate, and brain activity. There are four stages of sleep that occur approximately 90 minutes in cycles during a night of sleep. The type and speed of brain activity varies during each stage. The first 3 stages are considered to be non-rapid eye movement Stage 1 During this stage your body will be between wakefulness and sleep. This is the lightest stage of sleep. Your brain waves are going to be low in terms of how much voltage they produce during this stage. Stage 2 Stage 2 is a slightly deeper stage of sleep, and it is slightly harder to wake someone in this stage of sleep. During this stage your brain produces more theta waves, and it also produces some rapid rhythmic brain activity with some larger spikes to suppress cortical arousal. Stage 3 This stage is known as the slow wave stage because your brain waves are very slow. It will be extremely difficult to wake someone up during this stage. Stage 4 Stage 4 is the rapid eye movement phase which is characterized by your eyes moving quickly under their lids. Also, your muscles are paralyzed during this stage. Most of the dreams that you have are thought to occur during this stage. What happens during a normal nights sleep During a normal nights sleep it is expected that you will cycle through each stage 4-5 times during the night for approximately 90 minutes. However the order you go through sleep is not in order. You go from stage 1 to stage stage 2, stage 2 to stage 3, stage 3 back to stage 2, and than from stage 2 to stage 4. Then this cycle repeats itself.