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How Sleep Affects Metabolism

Sleep and Metabolism

Sleep affects bodies more than we realize. When we sleep, the body goes through a host of metabolic and hormonal processes to stay healthy, fit and active. Although, this requires us to get the right amount of sleep. If you are suffering from sleeping disorders or you generally sleep more than required, then your chances of contracting some form of metabolic dysfunctions are very high. One such study conducted with over 130,000 adults between the age of 40-70 concluded that people who sleep for lesser than six hours and people who sleep for more than ten hours suffered some form of metabolic syndrome.

People who stay up late often resort to midnight snacking. On the other hand, people who sleep very little also tend to eat a lot during the day causing increased weight gains. To breakdown everything we have eaten, we need to let the body do its work; many of which happen when we sleep. Consequently, sleep and metabolism affect one another, thereby triggering not just metabolic dysfunctions but also increased sleeping problems.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

People suffering from such metabolic syndrome or dysfunctions show common symptoms like:

  • Hypertension;
  • Fat collection around the stomach and back;
  • Decreased “good” cholesterol level;
  • High blood glucose.

From the above-mentioned study, it was noted that at least 50% of men and about 30% of women suffering from some sleep disorders or excessive sleeping, showed more than one of these symptoms.

Understanding Sleep and Metabolism Better

Metabolism involves two essential steps. One, the process builds up molecules and the other breaks down molecules. This latter process is critical for the body to absorb energy, proteins, vitamins, etc., from the food we consume.

With regard to the sleep process , human beings go through four stages of sleep that can be divided into two distinct phases: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM, or NREM, sleep. The first three stages of sleep are predominantly NREM sleep. When in NREM sleep, the body temperature declines and so does the metabolic rate.

Metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy spent in terms of burnt calories that then decides whether the body gains or loses weight. This essentially means that the body needs to go through REM sleep to activate high metabolism, in order to break down molecules. However, given the sedentary lifestyle of humans, about 60% of adults reportedly face some form of sleeping disorders.

People who spend more time trying to fall asleep or spend less time sleeping don’t go through the required REM sleep. A build-up of lack of REM sleep, over time, sets forth metabolic dysfunctions.

Sleep and Appetite

The body releases two hormones that regulate and control appetite. One is leptin that is responsible for preventing or reducing appetite and increased energy expenditure. The other, ghrelin, is responsible for increased appetite and reduced energy expenditure. Studies have also shown that chronic sleep deprivation can cause almost a 19% reduction in leptin and a 28% increase in ghrelin levels. Such an increase and decrease in hormonal levels are troublesome, especially if you are at risk of obesity and allied health ailments.

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