With quarantine baking, comfort eating and sleepless nights it’s no wonder the term quarantine 15 is gaining popularity. Gyms and fitness studios are closed in most places, so it seems as though there’s little that can be done to combat unwanted weight gain. A recent study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Texas sheds light on the importance of healthy sleep and maintaining a healthy weight.

Normally, when we eat enough, the brain produces the hormones ghrelin and leptin. The release of these hormones leads to a feeling of satiety which reduces the likelihood you would keep eating. This study demonstrated that after a bad night, the body needs more energy to physiologically balance the tiring waking phases of the night. Little sleep usually leads first to increased activity. The brain compensates for this increased activity by increasing hunger. At the same time, the hormones that provide satiety are down regulated. Increased feelings of hunger lead to increased eating behaviour; one eats more than is actually needed by the body. In a short time, the intake exceeds the need and within a week this can lead to an increase of up to one kilogram of body weight.

How did the researchers determine this? The study subjects at the University of Texas were required to reduce sleep duration by one hour per night over a fivenight period. This simulation often reflects a regular working week – in which the sleep deficit is then made up at the weekend. After just five nights, results showed that insufficient sleep lead to significant weight gain. On average, almost 0.82 kg of body weight was added per week.

The study also showed that a healthy, normal sleep pattern leads to a loss of body weight – but this process takes much longer. This unwanted increase in appetite, especially in women, can lead to significant weight gain within a short period of time. Fortunately, the opposite is true; however, weight loss is often slower than weight gain.

Consistent, sufficient, regular sleep can go a long way to reverse this trend. A cup of Zenbev alongside self-care rituals, proper nutrition and good sleep hygiene will contribute to much more than that well-rested feeling. Food for thought.