The new research claims that lack of sleep caused by the stimulation of electronic devices could be fuelling obesity and are calling on doctors to prescribe a good night’s sleep because it may prevent common metabolic disorders, including growing numbers of cases of type 2 diabetes.
This only backs up our concerns that our obsession with being connected is beginning to impact on our health and wellbeing. Exposure to blue light – generated by smartphones and tablets – can impact on your sleep cycle. It disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms by supressing the evening rise of melatonin which you need to feel sleepy, making it tough to nod off and stay asleep.
A bad night’s sleep causes Leptin (a hormone produced by fat cells levels) to drop, which signals insufficient metabolic reserves and the need to eat more calories. It also increases the hormone Ghrelin (produced in the stomach) which triggers appetite. It is this imbalance in hormone levels that upsets your metabolism, leading to over-eating and steady weight gain.
When we’re tired we’re more likely to crave sugary snacks and stodgy carbohydrates to keep us going and because our energy levels are low, we’re less motivated to work out and burn off those calories.
I’m under no illusion that it’s just lack of sleep that makes us fat but there is lots of research out that demonstrates that sleep should be taken as seriously as diet and exercise when it comes to being healthy. Research* found that those who shifted their sleeping pattern from less than six hours to between seven and eight hours a night put on 2.4kg less weight over a six year period. (Eastern Ontario Research Institute and Laval University in Quebec, September 2012)
So turn off the gadgets before bed if you want to help yourself get a good night’s kip and keep that weight off!