Sleep deprivation is becoming more and more common for children and adults alike. It is unclear how prevalent this phenomenon really is but it's obviously spreading due to longer work hours for adults, and greater access to computers, video games, and TV for children.
One of the consequences of sleep deprivation is weight gain and obesity. The question is why? Why does lack of sleep contribue to weight gain?
There are a number of reasons why this happens and although not all of them may apply to you or to your loved ones, it's best to take heed of them and make sure you don't find yourself lacking sleep:
1. Hormonal imbalances - There are all sorts of changes in our body when we lack sleep. In children this can prove even more serious as you may find that your bodily functions simply don't work as well as they should when you lack sleep. It's as simple as that.
2. Reduced metabolism - While the connection between sleep and your metabolism is not firmly proven, it is safe to say that when you don't get enough sleep, your entire body slows down, including your metabolism. This means a reduced rate of calorie burning and a greater tendency to gain weight.
3. Less muscle development - As any bodybuilder would tell you, sleep is crucial for proper muscle development. Our muscles grow during our sleep so if you're not getting enough of it you may very well be limiting the growth of your own muscle tissue, something that slows down your metabolism even further.
4. Lack of energy - Sleep is required to replenish our energy and ability to do physical activity. Without sleep we feel more lethargic, tired, worn down, etc. This is not the best way to feel if you want to be active and burn a lot of calories and fat during the day.
Even if you do make it to the gym while lacking sleep, your workout is not likely to be anything above mediocre. You won't be able to really make the most of it.
So, for health reasons and functional reasons alike, you just need your sleep. There's no question about it. Unless you wish to constantly fight a greater tendency to gain weight or an inability to lose it, get at least 6.5 hours of undisturbed sleep each night. That's a minimum as you may find yourself needing more.