A professor of the Sleep Medicine Programme at the New York University School of Medicine declares that sleep plays a significant role in determining our weight levels, and that an imbalance in our sleeping habits could possibly affect our weight indirectly. While we sleep specifics hormones are released, which are linked to our levels of appetite.
During sleep numerous hormones, which have different purposes are released, but this is the first time researches have found a particular hormone type that is directly linked with appetite. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that influence our sleep or appetite, they also monitor and control how we feel, if we feel tired or hungry for example. Specifically leptin has the role of transmitting signals to the brain to warn it when we have eaten enough, while the ghrelin produced stirs up appetite.
When you are not getting enough sleep the values of ghrelin increase and you feel the need to eat, whereas the values of leptin lessen and you are left feeling hungry even though you have already eaten, hence this can lead to food excess.
In a study conducted on a group of healthy adults it was determined that when they were left without sleep for two successive days and then allowed to sleep for two days, their rates of ghrelin increased, while those of leptin went down. In a consequent more detailed study 1,000 people were examined and their sleeping habits were monitored to note both the rates of leptin and ghrelin and their weight values.
The ensuing results demonstrated that the rates of ghrelin had increased, while those of leptin had decreased, amongst the people who had been sleeping fewer that eight hours. There also existed a definite relationship between their sleeping habits and their body mass; those who slept the least were overweight compared to those who slept regular hours.
These studies led experts to speculate on how we might just be able to solve weight problems with more sleep, although this connection is not as evident as it may appear. This is due to obstructive sleep apnea, which impedes our quality of sleeping.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the continual interruption of breathing during our hours of sleep; we may actually stop breathing for very short periods throughout the whole night, leaving us depleted when we wake up. Hence, we may in reality think we have had a good nights sleep, when in fact we have only really slept enough in order to replenish our bodies for only half of that time.
Although people who are affected by obstructive sleep apnea stand more chances of being overweight, strangely enough their rates of leptin, which are normally connected with overweight, are unusually low.
Atypically, these patients suffering from sleep apnea tend to lose wait once their problem has been treated and the leptin level has decreased.
Therefore a lot of questions in this theory remain to be examined in more detail.