Humans require an adequate amount of sleep to function properly. When we sleep, we give our bodies that much needed rest to recover both physically and mentally. We neutralize the negative effects that the active part of the day has had on our system. Sleep deprivation can cause serious harm to our bodies. Its adverse effects include, but are not limited to, depression, headaches, hallucinations, constipation, drowsiness, lack of concentration. The list is huge. Nevertheless, one interesting recently discovered fact is that lack of sleep can also cause obesity. Scientists believe that this is due to the fact that not getting enough hours of sleep may adversely affect our hormones that are supposed to control our appetite and glucose metabolism.
Our way of life has drastically changed over the past few decades. The ever increasing presence of technological devices in our daily lives contributes to changes in our sleeping habits. The night is no longer necessarily the time of day reserved for sleeping and regaining strength for the following day. We feel pressure from work, friends, family and we enjoy letting ourselves loose at night, so to speak. It is believed that over the last fifty years, humans have decreased their sleeping time by two hours per night. Certain studies carried out in the United States and in the United Kingdom claim to have shown that obesity increases in proportion to the decrease in our sleeping time. Among the individuals that they monitored, they found that those who slept for five hours had a higher amount of a hormone called ghrelin that produces in us a craving for food. Furthermore, these people also had a smaller amount of another hormone called leptin that keeps our appetite under control.
What is also particularly interesting is the link between sleep deprivation and obesity in children as young as two years. Doctors believe that even these toddlers have a higher chance of becoming obese if they do not receive the sufficient amount of sleep. This means that those stories that five hours of sleep are totally sufficient for your normal functioning are simply not true. The two extra hours can make a world of difference. Moreover, if you stay up late at night very often, you are also very likely to consume food before going to bed. Our 24 hour active society has made fast food available at any time of the day. Since it is very late, chances are that you will not be in the mood to prepare a healthy meal, but will opt for a junk food snack instead. This means that in addition to the hormone changes that sleep deprivation may cause, bad sleeping habits can also can bad eating habits. The combination of the two makes the effect of sleep on our physical and mental well-being even greater.
It is important to keep in mind that a simple improvement in your sleeping habits will not necessarily mean that your weight problems will just disappear. Adjusting your sleeping habits must be accompanied by a more active lifestyle and a more balanced diet. All three are essential for having a slim figure and being healthier. In turn, when you think about it, more exercise during the day will help you fall asleep sooner during the night. This will then be beneficial to your plans to lose weight. So what is the optimal number of hours of sleep for humans? Answers vary between seven and nine, but research has shown that those who sleep eight hours per day or more have the least predisposition to gain weight.