There are several explanations for why sleep problems causes weight gain. Two key players are the hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin suppresses appetite while ghrelin does just the opposite – it stimulates it. In just a few weeks of not sleeping well, your leptin levels can decrease by as much as 15%. Instead of registering that you are no longer hungry, your brain receives the message, ‘Hey! I am hungry. I need to eat.’ Uh oh! A few years ago there was great hope in the obese community that leptin would be the magic weight loss solution everyone was looking for – but this proved not to be the case. Obese patients typically suffer from a condition called leptin resistance where despite having high leptin levels, which should help them lose weight, they no longer respond to the hormone effectively. To regain leptin sensitivity, patients first need to decrease body fat. Dr. Avi Ishaaya, a leading sleep disorder specialist in California and former Director of the Medical Weight Loss Clinic at Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles, recommends that all his obese and overweight patients get a sleep test done as soon as possible. “Once treated, you will be able to lose weight. Getting a good night’s rest contributes to proper hormone function as well as providing energy for exercise – both of which are essential for effective weight loss. Patients need to recognize the importance of sleeping well for long term weight control, as well as for overall good health.” Many people unknowingly suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep apnea, the most common sleep disorder, affects over 20 million Americans, yet the majority remain undiagnosed. A person who suffers from sleep apnea typically stops breathing for periods of 10 to 60 seconds, possibly hundreds of times throughout the night, resulting in a very poor quality of sleep.
The Aviisha Medical Wellness Institute in California is known for recognizing the integral relationship between sleep disorders and obesity. Aviisha uses home sleep tests or an overnight session in a sleep lab to diagnose and treat patients with sleep disorders, while at the same time creating a customized Medical Weight Loss plan that puts each patient on the road to optimal health and wellness. The result? Effective, long term weight control with improved health and a better quality of life.