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When we think about losing weight, many of us think about increasing our physical activity and improving our diet—but health experts say there’s another component that’s often overlooked. “As a dietitian, when I’m working with someone on behavior change, or maybe they are eating all the right things, but they are still having issues regulating their weight, losing weight, or even feeling good, many times we will look at sleep behavior and see if they are getting adequate sleep,” explained Carrie Bloemers, dietitian and Healthy Life Center manager at Lee Health.
Having a regular sleep and wake time is important to your health and your weight. “How much you sleep does affect your weight, it does affect your health, and while we look at your nutrition and your physical activity as a change maker, we do have to look at the whole picture,” said Bloemers.
There’s a natural correlation between your metabolism and your circadian rhythm. Studies show people who sleep less than six hours will eat more the next day. “People who have a short sleep typically show reduced lepton levels, and lepton is one of the hormones that help regulate your appetite. So if you have lower lepton levels, you’re actually going to have an increased appetite,” she said.
Short sleep can also cause insulin resistance—meaning patients will have an increased craving for sugar.
“Women in shift work have a 44 percent increased risk for developing type two diabetes,” said Bloemers.
Short sleep is also a risk factor for obesity. “Due to the interruption in your hormones, maybe a decrease in physical activity because of lack of energy, and also you might choose different foods, foods that are higher in sugar,” she said.