Watch Now: Sleep-Starved and Overeating?

Are you starved for sleep, but gaining weight? There could be a connection between your sleepless nights and expanding waistline, according to Timothy Grant, M.D., medical director of Baptist Sleep Center at Sunset.

(Watch the video to learn more about sleep and weight gain from Dr. Grant, who spoke at a recent Community Health event.)

Lack of sleep upsets the normal activities of two hormones that control our appetite. Leptin is the hormone that sends the “stomach-is-full” message to the brain, and ghrelin is the hormone that sends out “eat-more” messages. But when you’re starved for sleep, those appetite-controlling hormones are thrown off balance.

Topsy-Turvy Hormones

That imbalance sets the table for overeating, according to a study conducted by Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin. The academic research project tracked the sleep habits of 1,000 participants.

“Those who slept less than eight hours a night had lower levels of leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone and higher levels of ghrelin, the eat-more hormone. They also had a higher level of body fat,” Dr. Grants says. “What’s more, those who slept the fewest hours per night weighed the most.”

And, of course, when you’re sleepy and tired, you’re less likely to exercise or participate in other healthy activities.

Sleep deprivation causes havoc on your internal clock and puts you at risk for chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes,” Dr. Grant says.

Sleep Disorders
A number of disorders can rob you of sleep. Here are a few:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Insomnia.
  • Restless leg syndrome (periodic limb movements).
  • Parasomnia or abnormal nighttime behavior.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Narcolepsy.
  • Dr. Grant recommends that people who don’t feel rested after a night of sleep should speak to their doctor about a referral to a sleep specialist if necessary. Most sleep disorders can be diagnosed with a sleep study in a sleep diagnostic center such as those at Baptist, South Miami, Homestead and Mariners Hospitals, and at freestanding centers like Baptist Sleep Centers at Sunset, Galloway, Miami Lakes and Pembroke Pines.


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