Quality sleep is an important aspect of good health. In this article we will explore research and our own clinical observations of what happens to many people when they are chronically deprived of a good night’s sleep. The main focus of this article will be lack of sleep, the weight gain lack of sleep can cause, and the heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and stress overload this weight gain may be responsible for.
For many people, there is not a lot of convincing needed by way of medical studies to convince them that if they do not get good sleep they will feel poorly. However, many think this is a night to night problem and that one good night’s sleep will fix it all. This is not necessarily true. Problems of sleep are chronic and they lead to chronic conditions, including the slow onset of heart disease.
Lack of sleep leads to poor diet and heart disease
In a February 17, 2020 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, (1) researchers suggest what types of problems chronic lack of sleep can cause.
“Sleep is recognized as playing an essential role in cardiometabolic health (poor cardiometabolic health includes problems of insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertension, and (belly fat) ,but underlying mechanisms warrant further investigation. (In other words the researchers were looking for how does sleep impact all these issues). Both short sleep duration and poor sleep quality are associated with the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease, and it is likely that the relationship between sleep and cardiometabolic disease risk is partially mediated (influenced) by diet.”
You tend to eat more when you lack sleep
For the researchers, the influence of diet seemed to be that of when people were “tired,” from lack of sleep, they ate more. They wrote: “experimental studies demonstrate that restricting sleep duration leads to increases in (food) intake, confirming associations of short sleep with higher (food) intakes in observational population‐based studies.:
The problem is worse in women
This is especially true in women, who are at increased risk for obesity and particularly prone to poor sleep quality and sleep disturbances..The researchers wrote: “Thus, the purpose of the current study was to investigate the associations of overall sleep quality, sleep‐onset latency, and insomnia presence and severity with diet quality in a diverse sample of women.”
495 women examined
“Disturbed sleep is highly prevalent among women, and data from this study show that different measures of poor sleep quality, including greater insomnia severity, longer sleep‐onset latency, and poorer overall sleep quality, are associated with higher food and energy (calorie) intakes as well as poorer overall diet quality in a diverse sample of women.”
“(This study) indicates that unhealthy dietary patterns likely contribute to the relationship between poor sleep quality and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.”
“Findings from this study suggest that incorporating strategies to enhance sleep quality into behavioral interventions may augment efforts to improve cardiovascular health among women.”
Too much sleep, too little sleep leads to weight gain – the 6 to 9 hour window and the stress factor
Chronic health problems are not problems that usually have clear cut boundaries. It is easy to suggest that if you have better sleep you will likely not gain weight. But life can be more complex than that. Let’s examine a study that looked at the stress factor in our lack of sleep, weight gain, heart disease model.
A study published in December 2019 (2) examined patients for factors that affected sleep duration, body mass index, self-perceived stress and computed that against the age of the patient to make recommending factors in helping patients with stress, weight gain, and sleep disorders.
In this study, 2034 participants were examined. The researchers were looking at what constituted too little sleep, too much sleep, and the health impacts of both.
People between the ages of 40-64 years old, who reported that they are dealing with stress, have a higher Body Mass Index in those sleeping less than 6 hours and more than 9 hours a night, night compared to those sleeping between 6 and 9 hours a night.
Those people over 65 years old with self-perceived stress sleeping more than 9 hours a night had a significantly higher Body Mass Index compared to those sleeping less than 6 hours and to those sleeping more than 6 and less than 9 hours a night.
Summary: The quality sleep is between 6 to 9 hours a night and it is difficult to attain if you have self-perceived stress.
Not thinking clearly due to lack of sleep leads you to poor eating decisions. Address cognitive dysfunction with weight management strategies and this will assist in the patient getting better sleep and reducing stress
Above we wrote that chronic health problems are not problems that usually have clear cut boundaries. It is easy to suggest that if you have better sleep you will likely not gain weight and you will be able to better manage your stress. Let’s examine a study that now adds cognitive function to the equation.
Researchers at Kent State University and Oklahoma University teamed up in a March 2020 study (3) to examine “the rapidly growing literature linking cognitive dysfunction to overeating and obesity.”
Here the researchers pointed to, “Deficits in attentional bias, delay discounting, (the inability to make good decisions in complex situations) and episodic memory have clear connections to overeating in both laboratory and real-world settings. New weight loss interventions target these deficits through strategies designed to either directly improve cognitive function or circumvent them by tailoring weight management strategies to individuals’ specific cognitive profile. Future iterations of these interventions should better account for the influence of obesity-related risk factors such as poor sleep, high stress, socioeconomic burden, and prevalent medical risk factors.”
The summary of this research is to address cognitive dysfunction with weight management strategies and this will assist in the patient getting better sleep, reduce stress, and reduced health risks.
Can you catch up on lost sleep and feel well? The inflammation factor of C-reactive protein
A February 2020 study (4) examined what happens if you sleep in on the weekend. Now real world experience tells us that not everyone can sleep in on the weekend. If this is you then you can substitute the weekend for those opportunities where you can sleep a little longer.
The complexities of lack of quality sleep continues into the world of chronic inflammation. In this study, the association between weekend catch-up sleep and the levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein – a serum inflammatory maker-in adults were investigated.
Participants whose weekend sleep duration was more than one hour longer than their weekday sleep duration were included as the “weekend catch up sleep group”.
The adults in the weekend catch up sleep group were significantly less likely to show higher high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels
In a subgroup analysis, this association was significant only for those with weekday sleep duration of 6 hours or less.
Longer weekend catch up sleep (more than 3 hours) was not associated with better high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels.
The researchers concluded: “Our findings indicate that weekend catch up sleep may be beneficial for low-grade systemic inflammation in adults, particularly among those with shorter weekday sleep durations. Weekend catch up sleep may also interact with obesity.
Managing sleep and a complexity of health issues.
Sleep is one component of good health. In the article above researchers have demonstrated what we have seen in our practice. Sleep, weight gain, chronic inflammation, brain fog, heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, can all be interrelated and may respond best to treatments that respond to all. For over 30 years we’ve been offering our patients effective and nontoxic complementary and alternative medical care.
Our comprehensive approach to healthcare provides the tools necessary to allow the body’s own natural mechanisms to activate and accelerate the healing process.
At the Magaziner Center, we strive to address the root causes of health issues that have not responded to conventional treatments, utilizing the latest testing techniques to do a thorough assessment of your body’s unique biochemistry. We help restore your body to optimal health by taking into account dietary habits, emotional and environmental factors, lifestyle and a good deal more. Remember, your body has been endowed with the ability to heal itself. What we do is to provide it with supportive natural and holistic therapies designed to help make that happen.
1 Faris M. Zuraikat, Nour Makarem, Ming Liao, Marie‐Pierre St‐Onge, Brooke Aggarwal. Measures of Poor Sleep Quality Are Associated With Higher Energy Intake and Poor Diet Quality in a Diverse Sample of Women From the Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2020; 9 (4) DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.119.014587
2 Rusu A, Bala C, Graur M, Creteanu G, Morosanu M, Radulian G, Popa AR, Timar R, Pircalaboiu L, Roman G. Sleep duration and body mass index: moderating effect of self-perceived stress and age. Results of a cross-sectional population-based study. Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. 2019 Dec 1;24(6):1089-97.
3. Gunstad J, Sanborn V, Hawkins M. Cognitive dysfunction is a risk factor for overeating and obesity. Am Psychol. 2020;75(2):219–234. doi:10.1037/amp0000585
4 Han KM, Lee HJ, Kim L, Yoon HK. Association between weekend catch-up sleep and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels in adults: A population-based study [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 1]. Sleep. 2020;zsaa010. doi:10.1093/sleep/zsaa010