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Sleep helps reduce Obesity

Have you heard the expression, sleeping your way, to a slimmer you? Well, a lot of us are stressed out by work, or other issues that plague our daily lives- so much so that we find it hard to unwind after a day’s work. Even if we do get to sleep the quality of sleep is bad, i.e. interrupted sleep and we wake up feeling tired and, well, still stressed. Recently, not only has getting enough restful sleep been proven to be good for you, it has also been shown to reduce obesity. Isn’t that just great news?

A bit of information of sleep and entering the restful, deep sleep phase. Deep sleep is also known as delta sleep, slow wave sleep or, more recently, N3. It is called delta sleep because of the presence of high amplitude, low frequency delta waves that are seen to occur in the EEG. Subjectively deep sleep is a time of nearly complete disengagement from the environment. It is very difficult to awaken a person in deep sleep, and children in this state may be nearly impossible to wake up. Many important physiological processes occur during deep sleep. Most deep sleep occurs during the first two sleep cycles with the greatest amount of deep sleep typically occurring in the first cycle. Human growth hormone is released in a pulsed manner during deep sleep and interruption of this stage abruptly stops release of this hormone. In adults growth hormone promotes cell repair that is necessary after the ill effects of stress.

Now you get a picture of why good quality sleep is important?

Now back to the obesity-sleep trial.

If you’re genetically predisposed to being overweight, the amount of sleep you get each night could make a big difference in how these obesity genes are expressed, a new study suggests. Sleeping too much does not make you fat. Quite the opposite, according to this study examining sleep and body mass index (BMI) in twins, which found that sleeping more than nine hours a night may actually suppress genetic influences on body weight. The study looked at 1,088 pairs of twins and found that sleeping less than seven hours a night was associated with both increased BMI and greater genetic influences on BMI. Previous research has shown that genetic influences include things like glucose metabolism, energy use, fatty acid storage and satiety. In this study, the heritability of BMI was twice as high for the short sleepers than for twins who slept longer than nine hours a night.

The results suggest that shorter sleep encourages an environment for the expression of obesity related genes. Getting adequate sleep, in other words, appears to dampen genetic risk and allow the influence of diet, exercise, and other controllable lifestyle factors to get a better hold on the body.

So why did they use twins in the study? Well , twin studies allow researchers to tease out the complex relationship between genes and environment. Identical twins share the exact same DNA, so most differences in weight can be attributed to environment rather than genes. And fraternal twins, though genetically dissimilar, tend to share the same background and risk factors. All of the twins in the study, both identical and fraternal, were raised in the same household.

This study which appears in the journal SLEEP, suggests that the amount of sleep you get has an effect on your gene expression. Researchers have identified more than 20 genes that are linked to obesity risk through their effects on appetite, blood sugar (glucose) metabolism, and other channels, but it’s not clear which specific genes were at play in the study. It is probably related to glucose metabolism, metabolism in general, inflammation—all pathways that we already know are associated with obesity. Sleep deprivation puts stress on your body and so it tells the body to hold on to calories.

In conclusion, even if you are not predisposed to obesity, you can now glean from this article, how important sleep is. In adults deep sleep can help with the releasing of growth hormones, that promote cell repair, that is necessary to cope with the ill effects of stress.


On average, how much sleep do you get a night? Will you now try to sleep more adequately after reading this article? 



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