It seems as though we are caught up in the tangle of urban living only to harm our bodies. As the demands of our careers dictate more travel, longer work hours, more frequent work with different time zones aided by technology, we are unconsciously slicing our rest hours as we take a long commute late in the evenings.
Some of the city dwellers are getting just six hours or less of sleep every day. This is in turn spelling trouble for our mental and physical health.
Research conducted by the Minnesota wing of the Mayo Clinic is now telling us that if we do not get enough sleep, we end up consuming more calories than we need, just to be able to feel up to functioning at normal levels. This is a cue to obesity.
This study was presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions. (1)
According to Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., study author and professor of medicine and cardiovascular disease at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, “We tested whether lack of sleep altered the levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, increased the amount of food people ate, and affected energy burned through activity.” (2)
Leptin is a protein hormone. It is chiefly produced by the fat cells of our body. Leptin is known to interact with parts of our brain which regulate our appetite and so controls our eating behavior and signals that we have had enough to eat. (3).
Leptin also regulates energy expenditure and plays a key role in metabolism of foods we eat. In the absence of leptin or when leptin levels are very low, we could have an uncontrolled need for eating, thus pegging our risk for obesity.
Ghrelin is an amino acid peptide hormone. In generic terms, ghrelin can be described as a counterpart of leptin.
Ghrelin is primarily produced in the stomach as well as in the small intestine and in the hypothalamus. Its chief function is to stimulate hunger. Ghrelin levels increase before meals and subside after we have eaten. (4)
In the study conducted by Mayo Clinic, 17 healthy adults (men and women) were observed for eight nights.