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Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain

Think about it - when you are feeling sleepy, you may feel like reaching for several cups of coffee and a snack to wake you up. If you're still sleepy later on, you may forego the gym and grab take-away instead of cooking. This vicious cycle can definitely affect your waistline, and your bottom line.

Susan Zarfalofti, PhD, Clinical Director for the Institute says, "Sleep debt is like credit card debt. If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash."

Even though you may temporarily be able to fight off sleepiness, you are gaining unwanted pounds, lack of exercise, and poor food choices as a result. These outcomes set the stage for obesity and even worse sleep problems.

Unfortunately, for most of us sleep deprivation is almost like a badge of honor that we wear. We boast about how little sleep we get, but we pay a steep price for this deprivation.

Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleepand the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, AZ explains: "It's not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly."

The hormones responsible for this phenomenon are ghrelin and leptin. When you are sleep deprived, you produce more ghrelin, and that's the hormone that tells you when to eat. Leptin, on the other hand, tells you to stop eating. Sleep deprivation leads to lower levels of leptin in the brain.

The amount of weight we will gain or lose based on our sleep depends on the size of the deficit we are dealing with. Losing 30 minutes every night will not have the same weight impact as losing 2 hours per night. If you are consistently missing out on an hour or more per night, then adjusting your sleep schedule and making time for adequate rest will be key to seeing a difference in the scale.

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