Not only makes you sleepy, lack of sleep is enough to trigger weight gain – Did you know that not getting enough sleep can lead to a vicious cycle of overeating. This will eventually contribute to unwanted weight gain.

“Some rather sinister changes unfold in your brain and body when sleep is short, and set you on the path to overeating as well as weight gain,” said Prof Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, quoted from BBC.

The explanation is, when a person is awake longer, he does need more energy, but actually not that much.

In contrast, sleep is an active process in which the brain as well as the body are working quite hard, says Prof Walker. However, when we are sleep deprived, we tend to eat more than double or triple the number of calories we need.

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That’s because sleep affects two appetite-controlling hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin will signal to your brain that you have eaten enough.

When leptin levels are high, our appetite is reduced. Ghrelin does the opposite. Meanwhile, when ghrelin levels are high, you are not satisfied with the food you eat.

Experiments have shown that when people are sleep deprived, these two hormones move in opposite directions. So, there is a marked decrease in leptin, which means an increase in appetite, while grehlin increases, leaving people unsatisfied.

Prof Walker Animals explains this can happen in evolutionary explanations. He gave an example that animals rarely reduce their sleep time, unless they are hungry and must stay awake to look for food.

So when we don’t get enough sleep, from an evolutionary point of view, our brain thinks that we might be in a state of starvation and will increase our appetite to encourage us to eat more.

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Not only that, lack of sleep not only affects how much we eat, but also what we eat.

A small study conducted by Prof Walker showed that participants were more likely to crave sweet, salty and carbohydrate-rich foods when they were sleep deprived.

That’s why, people who work at night tend to be more overweight. They may eat out of boredom or to stay awake, while there is nothing healthy for them to eat,