Sleep Deprivation, Hormones and Belly Fat

Sleep Deprivation, Hormones and Belly Fat
Since we rely heavily on our hormones to do so much, without adequate sleep our hormonal system gets disrupted and functionality becomes impaired. Just one night with no sleep can affect the sensitivity of insulin receptors, which in turn increases insulin levels, impairing one’s ability to burn and digest fat.
Sleep loss also has a strong correlation with the following : impaired glucose / lipid homoeostasis, reversal of melatonin and cortisol rhythms, a dysregulation of appetite and satiety signals (leptin and ghrelin), alongside a loss of circadian clock gene rhythmicity.

The role of hormones on sleep and fat storage

When sleep is disturbed or is of a poor quality, this impacts the normal circadian rhythms (hormones that are regulated by the sleep/wake cycle) and metabolism in our body. There are a number of hormones that affect sleep and play a role in fat storage.

These hormones are :

Melatonin Clinical Studies Relating to Sleep and Visceral Fat

Melatonin, Ageing and Thermogenesis (Fat Burning)

It has been discovered through clinical studies, that supplementing with melatonin reduces sleep latency, and may increase the total sleep time in those who otherwise struggle. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, which is a small gland in the brain. It releases melatonin after dark, preparing the body for sleep. Unfortunately, melatonin starts to decrease around the age of 20 and most people produce roughly half of the melatonin they did by the time they get to 40. This causes problems with “beige fat activation” and “thermogenesis,” which is a fat-burning process.

In another study involving animals who had their pineal gland taken out (location of melatonin production)– the result was that they gained weight. An administration of Melatonin was then found to reverse the weight gain showing the strong correlation between sleep and visceral fat gain again.

Melatonin directly aids in the regulation of insulin sensitivity

Melatonin has been studied and proven to reduce inflammation, alongside improving insulin sensitivity in rats that had diet-induced obesity. In another study, postmenopausal women were given 5mg of melatonin a day and combined this with dietary alterations. They were successful at losing weight in this study which is a definite indicator of melatonin’s abilities in weight reduction. Postmenopausal women, regardless of dietary changes, are typically unable to lose weight.

Melatonin can eliminate visceral fat through regulation of the circadian rhythm

Spanish scientists at the University of Granada found that melatonin regulates the circadian rhythm wake-sleep cycle in the rats studied. It also was found to stimulate the transformation of lardy “white” visceral fat into healthy “beige” or “brown” fat. Beige or brown fat cells have little power generators called mitochondria responsible for burning calories. The white fat stores them inertly.
cope with stress

Melatonin, Leptin and Adiponectin in the Regulation of Body Weight

Melatonin also has a link to the levels of leptin and adiponectin in the body. Leptin and adiponectin are vital hormones which play a role in the regulation of one’s body weight. Sleep deprivation is directly correlated with reduced levels of melatonin. Reduced melatonin creates a dysregulation of the internal messaging within the body.

Melatonin Benefits – Far More than Sleep

Growth Hormone, Sleep and Visceral Fat

  • Growth hormone levels peak naturally during the night, typically just after we have fallen asleep
  • Studies indicate GH levels significantly increase during slow wave sleep. In obesity, Growth hormone secretion is impaired significantly
  • Growth hormone is known to reduce insulin sensitivity
  • GH acts directly on fat cells to stimulate lipolysis by inhibiting the uptake of fat by fat cells, and increasing the release of fatty acids
  • Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) is the primary regulator of uptake in the cells. Secreted by the cell, LPL removes fatty acids from triglycerides and shuttles them inside the cell, to be re-esterified
  • Studies indicate GH reduces LPL which it appears may be because of its effect on insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone responsible for LPL transportation. This reduction is hypothesised to be greater in that of visceral fat
  • Growth Hormone stimulates fatty acid release much like the thyroid hormone does. It increases the density of beta2 adrenoreceptors (B2AR). When there is more B2AR, there is a greater effect of epinephrine and norepinephrine in stimulating lipolysis. GH also has been shown to inhibit Phosphodiesterase’s
  • Norepinephrine is known to stimulate calcium signalling creating enhanced PDE’s which then increase the release of adenosine an inhibitory factor for lipolysis
  • Nocturnal growth hormone surge requires adequate sleep within the circadian biorhythm
Binge Eating - Belly Fat

Insulin Sensitivity, Sleep Deprivation and Obesity

There was a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine which showed the effects of sleep deprivation on the participant’s insulin sensitivity. Sleep time recorded was only 4.5 hours per night. The insulin sensitivity of those studies was 16 percent lower and their fat cells insulin sensitivity was 30% lower. These levels are typical for people diagnosed with diabetes and obesity. Matthew Brady, the senior author of the study, explained that this was equivalent of ageing someone metabolically approx. 10 – 20 years. He explained that fat cells need sleep, and if they do not get it then, they start to become groggy.
cravings for starchy food

Leptin and Ghrelin as it relates to Weight Gain

Another interesting fact is that when a person is sleep deprived leptin levels fall. Leptin is the hormone that communicates we are full after a meal. Ghrelin reportedly rises. (Ghrelin is the hormone that alerts us of our appetite) You can see how this might create issues with fat accumulation.

There was a study in 2010 that found the participants who slept only 4 hours a night for two nights in a row experienced a 28% increase in Ghrelin and an 18% reduction in leptin. What this then promotes is a voracious appetite, craving sweets and starches. Researchers have theorised that the cravings must be stemming from the fact that blood sugar fuels the brain. If there is a lack of sleep, one’s brain becomes unable to function properly. Giving in to the cravings consistently only guarantees development of visceral fat, inflammation and disease.

Abdominal Weight Gain – Menopause and Postmenopausal Belly Fat
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