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As the world around us consistently evolves from one heretic event to another, sleep disturbance appears to be a widespread side effect for many of us.  The most recent statistics reports, 30% of Americans have acute insomnia.     We are sleeping far less than we were years ago; I can say, now less than six months ago, due to current events.

Sleep is essential to sustain and maintain overall health.  The CDC indicates seven or more hours is vital for our health and well-being.  One concern regarding the distinctive side effect of the lack of sleep is the impact it has on Weight, leading to obesity.   New research shows that individuals who sleep less than 7 hours per night tend to weigh more than those who do.   Many researchers suggest several contributing metabolic factors are responsible for this negative side effect.  Let’s take a few minutes to “Weigh in on Sleep.”

The Weight is on Hormones:  Ghrelin and Leptin, the two appetite-controlling hormones.   Evidence-based research is showing the lack of sleep places these two hormones in opposition to each other.  The metabolic activities of Ghrelin are to increase appetite and Leptin to decrease appetite.  During periods of sleep deprivation, Ghrelin levels are sustainably higher, whereas Leptin is considerably lower.  Study results show among sleep-deprived participants an elevation in their circulating Ghrelin more than those who received seven or more hours of sleep.  The study concludes the height of Ghrelin is the leading cause of participants consuming an additional 1,000 calories over the study group receiving adequate sleep.  The extra intake of calories is indicative of potential weight gain.

Endocannabinoid System:  This is another biological system affected by a lack of sleep.  Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that bind to the cannabinoid receptors throughout our bodies.   As these neurotransmitters disperse throughout the day, they began to link with their corresponding receptors.  The binding of endocannabinoids controls appetite, stress response, pain, and mood control.  Studies are showing when people get less sleep; endocannabinoid neurotransmitter rises within the body as well as appetites.   The innate natural endocannabinoids and cannabis from the “marijuana plant” share these same receptors within the brain, fat cells, and muscles.  Thus, the exact sense of hunger many feel after the use of marijuana occurs naturally with less sleep.  Evidence-based studies show elevation of endocannabinoids is responsible for study participants receiving less than 4 hours of sleep for displaying a stronger desire to eat.  These study subjects ate considerably more food than those who received 7-8 hours of sleep.

Dopamine Induced Snacking:  New evidence is linking the brain’s pleasure center and sleeps to snacking.  It appears that as a result of a lack of sleep, the body tends to crave and chose high fat-high carbohydrate foods over fruits and vegetables.  The cravings are primarily due to the appealing effect sugars, and fats have on the brain’s pleasure centers- through the activation of dopamine. Studies show we experience a higher release of dopamine when we consume high-calorie foods containing fats and sugars.  The lack of sleep tends to heighten this reaction leading to potential weight gain.

Also, the lack of sleep interferes with the way the body metabolizes excess calories.  Data show a difference between the storage of calories during regular sleeping hours vs. storage during periods of lack of sleep.   The body tends to store excess calories as fat much more readily during periods of sleep deprivation.

Currently, there is no such thing as the traditional starting the day at dawn, work 8 hours, then sleep with the setting of the sun.  This new pattern of sleep deprivation and eating at any time disrupts both our Circadian Rhythm and metabolism.  The body’s physiological design is to sleep and without the proper amount, leads to weight gain and obesity, which is the major contributing factor to disease.

Are you having issues with the ability to sleep at least seven or more hours at night, or are you also experiencing weight gain?   You could be “Weighing in on Sleep.”