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How Metabolism and Excessive Sleep Are Related?

February 21, 2020 By Ankit Raj

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Getting proper sleep in terms of both quality and quantity plays a vital role in your overall well being. Growing concerns in today’s sleep-deprived society call for some major lifestyle changes in order to lead happy and healthy lives. Sleeping in excess or sleeping less affects your metabolism and causes weight gain and conditions like diabetes as well. Read on to find out how exactly metabolism is affected by poor sleep.

The Science

Neurons

The two hormones that regulate your hunger and eating are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin can be thought of as the ‘go’ hormone that causes hunger and tells you when to eat. Leptin is the “stop” hormone that informs you to stop eating. When you are functioning on poor sleep, the body has more ghrelin and less leptin. When there are more ghrelin and less leptin in the body you are more likely to gain weight as you are eating more when your metabolism is slower.

What Causes Over Sleeping

Bed Linen

Most of us tend to experience excessive sleepiness even if we get the required seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This is largely due to recent lifestyle changes like a new job, relocating to a new place, or changes in physical exercise routines. Sometimes it could also be a sign of a health disorder like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder. Breathing repeatedly stops and starts when you are asleep. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after sleeping sufficiently, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is quite common in people who are overweight. Even if you suffer from other health issues including Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety and gastrointestinal disorders due to poor metabolism, you may be sleeping more at night.

How much sleep is too much?

Clock

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to getting a sufficient amount of sleep that is applicable to everyone. Sleep needs are as unique as the individual. The major factors that affect the quantity of sleep you need are based on your age.  People in their 20s need at least 7 hours of sleep and 6.5 - 8 hours for people in their 50s or 60s. Babies and toddlers require 10-12 hours of sleep a day. The amount of physical activity you perform also has a say in the amount of sleep you need each day. A Higher activity level demands more time for the body. If you regularly find yourself sleeping in and still feel tired and fatigued, it is a sign of oversleeping.

What happens if you sleep too much?

drawbacks of too much sleep

Sleeping too much is almost as bad as sleeping too little, it comes with the same health risks and metabolic problems such as diabetes and obesity. People who sleep too much have higher mortality risks overall.

When you sleep too much, there is a disruption in the body's natural 24-hour biological cycle (the circadian rhythm), that is, the need to wake up when the sun is out and feeling sleepy when night arrives. This interference causes oversleepers to experience a number of side effects our bodies struggle to "sync up" with the right time, causing a host of health issues including:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Impaired fertility
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Risk of stroke

Sometimes there exists an interdependence between excessive sleeping and being overweight. In most cases, it is not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. People who sleep for longer periods of time may also be suffering from depression, cancer, or other metabolic issues that can also lead to weight gain.

Blood sugar fluctuations: 

Poor metabolism is linked to impaired glucose tolerance. Glucose tolerance is the body's ability to process sugars, and it is associated with insulin resistance. Impaired glucose tolerance makes your body prone to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Weight gain: 

Researchers also found an association between weight gain and excess sleep that is due to poor metabolism. In this study, people who slept in excess (more than 9 hours a night) gained more weight than average sleepers. People who consistently slept over nine hours per night are at least 21% more likely than normal sleepers to become overweight.

How to deal with an oversleeping issue

sleeping man

Hypersomnia or excessive sleeping is often connected to another underlying health condition. Consult your doctor if you identify the underlying cause to be something other than just lifestyle changes. Serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease can also be a reason for your hypersomnia. 

Drink in moderation and it will improve your sleep quality and sleep patterns. Consuming too much alcohol too frequently and just before bedtime can all disturb your circadian sleep-wake rhythms, limit high-quality sleep, sabotage your metabolism and thus leading you to oversleep. 

Don’t let yourself be sleep deprived and end up with a large sleep debt. Our bodies are perfectly capable of getting the sleep they need. So, listen to your body and don’t put off falling asleep when you are tired at night. Getting too little sleep will put you in an endless cycle where you’re constantly oversleeping to compensate for your lack of sleep. 

Conclusion

Consistency is the foremost element of a healthy sleep routine. Determine the right amount of sleep and set up your schedule accordingly. During REM sleep (the deepest sleep), metabolism increases, speeding up the rate of calorie-burn. The longer you sleep deeply, the more calories are burnt, however, oversleeping has a backward effect and decelerates metabolism. So use the time you spend sleeping wisely!

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