I often write on this blog that I immediately lose weight once I stop working (either by choice or through layoffs) and I tend to gain weight once I start employment again. I’ve attributed this to the amount of sleep I get. When I don’t work, I sleep more and for reasons unknown to me at the time, I ate less just because I felt hungrier less. When I work, I get less sleep and I always seem to crave food more.
I just weighed myself this evening and I’m eight pounds heavier compared to when I started this job. I’m obviously eating more. Why? I finally did more research tonight and it comes down to two hormones in your body: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin levels in your body tell your brain if you have enough energy at the moment. The more you sleep the higher levels of leptin are in your body. Higher levels of leptin prevents your brain from telling you that need fuel and to store energy as fat. It is essentially the hormone that tells your body you are satiated.
Ghrelin is the other side to leptin. It can be thought of as the hunger hormone. Ghrelin levels decrease as you sleep because you need less energy when sleeping compared to being awake. The longer you sleep, the less of this hormone is in your body.
Being sleep deprived causes you to have lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin. Your body thus thinks you need more fuel (you are not satiated) and that you’re hungry more. It also tells your body to start storing more energy as fat. It all makes sense now.
I wish more people would learn that you can lose weight just by sleeping more. Well, now that I know for sure why I’m gaining weight, I should get some more sleep!