Lack of sleep is causally connected to many physical problems. We know that from numerous reliable studies.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a major cause of sleep loss and one of the common symptoms of (OSA) is being overweight. Sleeping less than six hours — or more than nine hours — a night appears to increase the likelihood of weight gain. So then, how does OSA effect weight gain?
There are three hormones that factor in the equation of lack of sleep contributing to weight gain.  

1. Ghrelin: the Hunger Hormone

Lack of sleep increases ghrelin, and decreases leptin, both effects producing increased hunger and obesity. Ghrelin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and functions as a neurotransmitter. When the circadian rhythm is interrupted by exposure to light at night, gherlin is released.

 2.  Leptin: the Anti-hunger Hormone
Leptin is the satiety hormone that has opposite effects from ghrelin.  The receptor for leptin is found on the same cells in the brain as the receptor for ghrelin.
3.  Melatonin:

Melatonin maintains the body’s circadian rhythm by regulating the other hormones. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour “clock” that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin. When it is light, the production of melatonin drops. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening, or too little light during the day, can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles.

Melatonin supplements can be helpful for those who are sleep disadvantaged but adherence to directions is recommended.

melatonin 5-6-15

The Process

An inverse relationship between the hours of sleep and blood concentrations of ghrelin exists: as the hours of sleep increase, ghrelin levels trend lower and obesity is less likely.  Short sleep duration is associated with high levels of ghrelin and obesity.

When the stomach is empty, ghrelin is secreted. When we eat something the stomach is stretched and ghrelin secretion stops. Ghrelin acts to increase hunger and to increase gastric acid secretion and gastrointestinal motility to prepare the body for food intake.

What else does Ghrelin do to effect weight gain?
Beyond regulating hunger, ghrelin also plays a significant role in other systemic functions. Ghrelin influences body composition, it stimulates the release of growth hormone and regulates the distribution and rate of use of energy.
This is just another convincing reason to get adequate healthy sleep…. at the right time. Light is the circadian rhythm disrupter. Avoid light disturbances during sleep: have no lights in the bed room, pull the shades down to block any outside light, wear an eye mask.


Zarouna SWozniak, G, Papachristou, Stalo Zarouna,
Psychology Department, University of Cyprus, Nicosia 1678, Cyprus.
  • Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, University of Cordoba, Instituto Maimónides de Investigación Biomédica de Córdoba (IMIBIC), and CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición, 14004 Córdoba, Spain.


Sleep protects our physical and mental health and insufficient sleep is the cause of some serious health problems including strokes, high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, diabetes, dementia and occular problems.

6-2-12 BRAIN


Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a killer. Imagine holding your breath for 10 to 30 seconds 30 times in one hour. How much sleep would you get? How much oxygen would be passing to your brain?

“Sleep is important for mental function, alertness, memory consolidation, mood regulation and physical health,” says Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The amount of sleep that a person needs to stay healthy, alert and active depends on their age and will vary from one person to another, but there are now some recognized guidelines.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) evaluated 300 studies and recently released an age-based sleep recommendation scale. 


Newborns (0 to 3 months):     14 to 17 hours of sleep
Infants (4 to 11 months):          12 to 15 hours of sleep
Toddlers (1 to 2 years):            11 to 14 hours of sleep
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years):   10 to 13 hours of sleep
School-agers (6 to 13):               9 to 11 hours of sleep
Teenagers (14 to 17 years):      8 to 10 hours of sleep
Young adults (18 to 25 years): 7 to 9 hours of sleep
Adults (26 to 64 years):              7 to 9 hours of sleep
Older adults (65 years +):           7 to 8 hours of sleep

Gender Differences

Women often sleep more than men and their sleep is lighter and more easily disrupted. Pregnancy and hormonal changes related to menopause influence sleep health. Traditionally, tending to babies and children was “the woman’s job” but today the modern man shares those nocturnal duties.

Other Factors that Disrupt Sleep

Depression, stress, arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle pain, epilepsy, heart disease and substance abuse. Restless Leg Syndrome is another sleep disrupter.