Have you ever wondered why most babies sleep so much? Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This growth hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults.
Sleep plays an important role in our health throughout our lives. For example, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. 1 There’s nothing fair about it: losing sleep can feel like punishment but to add insult to injury, it even puts us at a higher risk for obesity!
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese increased. Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make us feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When we don’t get enough sleep, our level of ghrelin goes up and our level of leptin goes down. This makes us feel hungrier than when we’re well rested.
Sleep is one of the many topics covered by the National Institutes of Health. Their archives contain multiple studies that attribute weight gain to lack of sleep. For example, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that when people were sleep-deprived, late-night snacking increased, and they were more likely to choose high-carb snacks. In another study done at the University of Chicago, sleep-deprived participants chose snacks with twice as much fat as those who slept at least eight hours. Yet another study found that sleeping too little is a trigger to eat bigger portions of all foods, increasing weight gain. And in a review of 18 studies, researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.
As if that’s not bad enough, the stress hormone known as cortisol spikes when we get too little sleep. Cortisol signals our bodies to conserve energy for later use, which tends to make us hold on to fat rather than burn it!
Sleep also affects how the body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls blood glucose (sugar) levels. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase the risk for diabetes. When the body doesn’t respond properly to insulin, processing fats from the bloodstream becomes difficult, and it ends up being stored as fat. In a nutshell, not enough sleep slows down the metabolism and contributes to weight gain.
Kenko Sleep Products are an integral component of Active Wellness lifestyle. From the Kenko Naturest® Mattress Topper and Custom Pillow to our comforters and KenkoTherm® Cocoon, once you try them, you’ll never want to give them up!