Have you noticed that your waist has been getting a little thicker, while your nutritional habits haven’t changed much? Do you feel lethargic and blame it on your weight gain without considering how much shuteye you’re getting?
The problem could be associated with a disorder called sleep apnea. This might be the sole cause or one of several contributing factors, but it’s imperative that you understand the connection so that you can solve the problem and start shedding pounds.
The Sleep Apnea Fat Factor
There’s a problem in connecting the health issue of sleep apnea with weight gain. It’s one of those “chicken or the egg” situations where either one could come first.
You might be overweight, which has caused you to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Or, you might develop sleep apnea first, causing you to gain weight.
The Harvard Nurses’ Study reported that when people get less sleep, which means less than five hours a night, they increase their risk of packing on pounds by 15%.
Visceral fat, which is fat that gets added around your abdomen area, is more likely to accumulate on men, according to a Japanese study at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine.
In a study funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health), researchers found that a person’s body mass index (BMI) was directly connected to how severe a patient’s sleep apnea was.
Another study at the University of Colorado in Boulder compared the traditional “calories in, calories expended” advice to situations where sleep was the control factor. What they found was that when people didn’t get enough sleep, they ate more! Eating more meant they gained more.
What was very telling was when they ate. They often ate in an effort to pick themselves up from an afternoon energy slump. This gave their body less time to burn off the calories for the day.
The participants were split up, with some being allowed a luxurious nine hours of sleep, and others getting only five. For a full five days, they went through this – and all of them had access to food at all times.
The food wasn’t just healthy food. They were offered everything on the spectrum – fruits and vegetables as well as fat-laden ice creams and chips. When the five days were up, the groups switched patterns so that researchers could observe the changes in each individual.
You may not be surprised to hear that those who slept less burned more calories. But unfortunately, they also ate more calories – 1% more than they burned. This caused them to pack on two pounds during the sleep study.
Imagine just five days of adding two pounds to your frame. Now consider 4 weeks, three months, or even a year of being sleep deprived and you can see how sleep apnea can affect your size.
Those who got ample sleep actually wound up losing a bit of weight! Women were more prone than men to gain weight when they were sleep deprived. But both groups definitely showed better nutritional habits when they got plenty of sleep during the night!