Weight loss and insomnia or sleep deprivation

Regular undisturbed sleep is essential for the body to maintain a healthy optimum weight, and the important connection between weight loss and insomnia or sleep deprivation is often overlooked in many weight loss methods. In an article as long ago as February 15th 2010 in the Daily Mail, Flic Everett reported:

Around 60 per cent of British adults are overweight or obese, and research suggests that the cause may not be overeating or lack of exercise, but sleep deprivation.

‘We have done a series of studies looking at weight and sleep, and studying the metabolic rate,’ says Dr Shahrad Taheri, a consultant endocrinologist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital.

‘We discovered that people who sleep for significantly less than seven hours a night often end up being obese.’

It also seems that people who sleep for fewer than four hours a night are 73 per cent more likely to gain excess weight, while restricting sleep can lead to cravings for up to 900 extra calories a day. This much food on top of a normal diet could result in an alarming weight gain of up to 2lb a week.

The findings suggested that although participants had no significant weight problems beforehand, their weight grew as their sleeping time shrank.

‘Lack of sleep seems to stimulate the hormones that regulate appetite,’ explains Dr Taheri. ‘It leads to higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers appetite, and lower levels of leptin, that tells your body it’s full.’

While there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that restricted sleep leads to haywire hormones, Dr Taheri’s team is investigating other factors in the connection between insomnia and weight gain.

‘The longer you’re awake, the more time there is to eat, for instance,’ he adds. ‘And obesity is likely to lead to broken sleep. Weight is a factor in sleep apnoea [a sudden halt in breathing patterns] and snoring, which are more likely to wake you during the night, so you can end up in a vicious cycle.’

Other studies have found that lack of sleep can double the risk of obesity in adults.

In an informal experiment by a U.S. magazine, led by Dr Michael Breus, a group of women were asked to keep their eating and exercise habits as they were, but to sleep for seven-and-a-half hours a night.

Astonishingly, all the women lost between 3lb and 15lb. Now, a larger U.S. study is investigating the effect that sleeping for longer has on body weight. ‘We are looking at the prevention of obesity,’ Dr Taheri says. ‘The connection [between sleep deprivation and putting on weight] holds true everywhere, even Japan.’

Dr Taheri recommends between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

The Hypnodieting Programme fully addresses sleep deprivation, and a vital component of this healthy, natural weight loss process is dedicated to the promotion and regaining of a sound sleep pattern.