If nutrition and exercise are regarded as the two key elements of effective weight management, the third key factor is sleep, whose role is often ignored.

Short sleep results in increased craving for high sugar and processed foods. It also causes lethargy and thus decreased expenditure of energy.

Interestingly, average number of sleep hours among adults fell below 8 in the 1980s, which is about the same time that the obesity started rising. This cannot be taken as just a coincidence.

Studies conducted across the world in varied age groups show that short sleepers, both children and adults, are more susceptible to develop obesity.

In fact, this risk is higher in children and adolescents.

89% increase in obesity risk in children and 55% risk increase in adults due to short sleep was observed by a meta-analysis* of various studies that included 30,002 children and 6,34,511 adults from across the world.

This establishes a direct relation between inadequate sleep and obesity associated comorbidities like elevated blood pressure, diabetes and poor heart health as kids and adults alike.

The relation between sleep and obesity is mainly due to the secretion of two key hormones in the human body, ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin increases appetite and leptin sends a signal to the brain to indicate satiety. Lack of sleep impacts the secretion of both these hormones and impacts the body. This leads to consumption of more calories than what the body needs, leading to obesity.

While one may get away with the occasional sacrifice of a good night’s sleep, regular abuse of the requisite downtime can contribute to a steady rise in the BMI.

Hence sleep well everyday- atleast for 8 hours, to beat obesity!


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