How Sleep Can Affect Your Metabolism

Sleep is an important part of both our physical and mental health, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. When you are younger, a good night's sleep plays an important role in your growth and development and impacts how you think, work, and even relate to other people. Sleeping well can have positive effects on your heart and circulatory system, as well as your blood pressure.

However, if you don't get proper rest, you could be putting yourself at risk for a number of physical and mental issues (via Healthline). It can affect your central nervous system, making it difficult to concentrate or learn new things, impair coordination, lead to mood swings, and impact decision-making.

The physical toll that sleep deprivation can take is also serious. In other words, not getting enough sleep can compromise your immune system because, during sleep, your body produces antibodies and cytokines to fight disease. Without enough sleep, the body can't make enough of these antibodies to effectively keep illness at bay. In addition, there can be unexpected side effects of not getting enough sleep, such as weight gain and obesity.

Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your waistline

When you're sleep-deprived, your brain's reward center will kick in, searching for anything to make you feel better. A 2010 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a link between sleep deprivation and a boost in food intake. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that insufficient sleep can affect the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates appetite. This is particularly true in children, where a link has been shown between lack of sleep and weight gain.

During sleep, your body produces hormones, including ghrelin, which tells your body when it's time to eat, and leptin, which tells you when it's time to stop (via WebMD). When your sleep cycle is off, you tend to produce more ghrelin and less leptin. A lack of sleep can also trigger a chemical signal in the brain that enhances the pleasure that comes from eating. A 2016 study published in Sleep showed that sleep deprivation activated the body's endocannabinoid system, which regulates energy levels, as well as levels of appetite. The study showed that sleep-deprived individuals had high endocannabinoid levels and tended to eat twice as much fat as when they had enjoyed a full night's sleep.

To get proper sleep, you should shut down your devices before bedtime, create a bedtime ritual, and avoid heavy meals, including chocolate and caffeine (per WebMD). Creating healthy sleep habits can keep your body and your metabolism on track.