stress and insomnia contribute to weight gain and obesity

It doesn’t usually make the weight gain list, but insomnia and stress can make you gain weight.

There are so many things we hear about that make us gain weight. But stressful days and short nights are not usually among them. Some intriguing research, though, may shed some helpful light on weight gain, since our modern lifestyle is big on stress and short on sleep.

Cortisol is the stress hormone: when you are stressed, your cortisone goes up. And when your cortisone goes up, you just might gain weight.

Concentrations of cortisol in the hair is an indicator of long term cortisol exposure. In a large study of 2,527 people over the age of 54, higher concentrations of cortisone were associated with significantly greater weight, body mass index, waist circumference and obesity. More cortisone in the hair was also significantly associated with remaining obese.

This study provides evidence that being stressed contributes to weight gain (Obesity 2017;25(3):539-44).

And not only stressful days, but sleepless nights can contribute to weight gain.

People who sleep less than 6-7 hours a night have higher body mass index and are more likely to be obese (Sleep 200528(10)1289-96; PLoS Med 2004;doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0010061; Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000;24(12):1683-8). Adolescents who sleep less are more likely to obese: for each hour of sleep lost, the odds of obesity go up by 80% (Am J Hum Biol 2002;14(6):762-8).

What’s true for adult and teens is already true in childhood. Children who get less sleep are more likely to be obese (Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1992;16(10):721-9; Child Care Health Dev 2002;28(2):163-70). A review of 25 studies found that all 25 of them found that children who sleep less weigh more (J Spec Pediatr Nurs 2012;17(3):193–204).

And a meta-analysis of 45 studies found that short sleep increases the risk of obesity by 89% in kids and by 55% in adults (Sleep 2008;31(5):619–626).

So, have a good day. And have a good sleep.



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The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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