Lack of Sleep: A Rising Independent Risk for Obesity?

Published:March 28th, 2011

We experience it almost everyday. We rise before the sun rises. We sleep hours and hours after the sun has gone down. We work in front of our monitors while munching a few snacks and drinking a few cups of sleep-awakening coffee several hours after our expected sleeping time. You might be saying: “Hey! what’s wrong with this? We are just making a living. We are just trying to survive.” But the fact is, almost every person in this planet are stealing some valuable time from our organs and tissues, the time needed for them to repair themselves and have a little rest as well.

According to a study published by the Environmental Health Perspectives in 2010, some small epidemiologic studies mention that the lack of sleep may now be a rising independent risk factor to the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in the modern society. Similarly, some experimental and laboratory studies find the same relationship between lack of sleep and rise of obesity trend. Scientists are now seeing some bits and pieces relating the lack of sleep with this modern-age lifestyle disease. With the disruption of restful sleep, alteration in metabolism ensues giving rise to the increase in weight.

Many environmental factors result in the alteration of the normal sleeping pattern. These may include noisy streets, busy overnight duties in the work place, overnight beating of deadlines and late night hang-outs.  Some research have shown that exposure to stimulus such as the light may cause a ‘reset’ in our biological clock, the circadian clock, resulting in the disruption of normal sleeping pattern. We live in a modern-age world in which almost every thing glows and lights day in and day out. and with more and more continuous exposure to light and other stimulating factors, the more our precious sleep is compromised.

According to the said study published by the Environmental Health Perspectives, there are other unhealthy results of altered sleeping pattern aside from weight gain. These may include :

Increase in cholesterol parameters. These may include a rise in the triglyceride level and a decrease in the good cholesterol level.  Some large scale studies reported that this increase in the cholesterol parameters may be seen in patients whose work schedule involves change of duty schedules.

Increase in resting heart rate and blood pressure. People with less restful sleep tend to have higher resting heart rate and blood pressure readings compared to those who sleep soundly all throughout the night. This may be in part to the increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the controller of heart rate and blood pressure within our body. Restful sleep can cause a decrease in the blood pressure reading by ten to twenty percent, explains a study conducted in Berndt Karlsson of University Hospital in Sweden and published in the November 2001 issue of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Affect insulin utilization and glucose level within our body. New studies reveal that sleep may have a great influence in the way our insulin works. Furthermore, it can also affect the level of glucose in our blood, according to a study published by the September 2009 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Sleep is not just another body activity you can easily let go without facing and paying any negative consequences. If you want to have a healthier, lighter weight free from chronic lifestyle diseases, better start correcting your sleeping pattern. The more you do this, the better it is, not only for your weight, but also for your health.



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