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Nutrition and sleep

21 May 2018

Sleep occupies a third part of our life and it is well known that its alterations affect human beings regardless of age, racial group, socioeconomic status, physical condition, etc.

It is estimated that 25% of the population over 30 years old and up to 65% of those over 60 years old have some type of sleep disorder that is not usually isolated but can be physical or mental irregularities that will significantly modify their daily life.

Sleep is essential for life as it contributes to different health and nutrition factors. Many of the consequences of sleep deprivation are not perceived, however, lack of sleep is associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These diseases, in addition to lack of sleep, are related to poor nutrition, genetic and environmental factors, and lack of physical activity, and exercise.

It is recommended to sleep a minimum of six to eight hours a day. Sleeping less than eight hours regularly is related to an increase in different diseases and can have negative effects on health, for example:

  • Obesity: different studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours regularly favors weight gain.
  • Diabetes: Several studies have shown that sleeping less than five hours increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown that by improving sleep, blood glucose levels decrease.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases and Hypertension: Sleeping less than six or seven hours regularly is associated with an increased risk for the development of coronary artery calcification, a myocardial infarction, and a heart disease predictor.
  • Immune System: Lack of sleep decreases the body’s ability to fight infections.

Common Cold: people who sleep less than seven hours are three times more likely to develop flu symptoms.

Regarding nutrition, lack of sleep alters the levels of different hormones that interact in metabolism, appetite regulation, and stress response. Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and high levels of body mass index (BMI).

It has been seen through different studies that lack of sleep alters the levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones involved in the regulation of appetite and body fat.

  • Leptin: is responsible for satiety
  • Ghrelin: responsible for hunger sensation.

People who sleep less than five hours tend to have low levels of leptin and high levels of ghrelin. In the same way, it has been seen that lack of sleep produces an increase in “cravings”, especially for sweets and high-fats. One reason for these cravings may be related to the stress hormone cortisol, which increases with lack of sleep and contributes to feelings of hunger.

Also, people who spend more time awake at night tend to eat more, especially high-energy foods.

Sleeping the necessary hours does not guarantee good health, however, it helps maintain vital functions. Restorative functions such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur during sleep. An adequate sleep pattern helps people feel better, provides health benefits, and helps lead a more productive and healthier life.

At ABC Medical Center’s Nutrition & Obesity Center, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

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