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The Sport Information Resource Centre

It is well known that if we don’t get enough sleep we have difficulty thinking and focusing clearly, we are irritable and may have trouble finishing tasks.  It can be easy to think that a few hours of sleep loss isn’t a big deal, but over the long-term the cumulative sleep debt may cause some health issues in the future.  Current research now shows that sleep deprivation may also be linked to obesity. 

Sleep deprivation affects:

Glucose and Insulin levels – After only three nights of inadequate sleep, the body becomes less sensitive to insulin; this means that the body needs more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose.  An inability to regulate glucose and insulin levels leads to insulin sensitivity, which in turn increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Appetite control – A recent study found that two consecutive nights of four hours of sleep or less results in a 30% greater desire for calorie-dense foods like cake and potatoes.

Caloric intake – With the greater desire for high calorie food comes an increase in calorie consumption, by as much as 350-550 kcal/day.

Energy levels -This is an obvious set-back, we all feel groggy if we have a bad night’s sleep; however, a decrease in energy also lowers your motivation to get the physical activity you need to stay fit and healthy.

How can you tell if you are sleep deprived?

  • Chronic sleepiness
  • Nearly-instant state of sleep when you go to bed
  • Inability to think clearly – decision-making, problems finding the right words, trouble with problem-solving
  • Lack of physical stamina
  • Frequent naps or an over-reliance on your alarm clock to get you out of bed

There are many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep, not only will it keep you fresh, focused and motivated to tackle the day, it also reduces the likelihood of weight gain and the risk of diabetes.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Kravitz L. Chronic Sleep Restriction Is a Risk Factor for Obesity. IDEA Fitness Journal. September 2010;7(8):21-23.
2. Less sleep = more fat. Active Living. September 2009;18(5):30.
3. Meyer K, Wall M, Larson N, Laska M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Sleep Duration and BMI in a Sample of Young Adults. Obesity. June 2012;20(6):1279-1287.
4. MONROE M. It’s all in the Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Overeating With Neuroscience. IDEA Fitness Journal. November 2011;8(10):38-46.
5. Sleep Duration May Play Important Role in Childhood Role in Childhood Obesity. O&P Business News. March 2008;17(5):86-88.
6. Trenell M, Marshall N, Rogers N. SLEEP AND METABOLIC CONTROL: WAKING TO A PROBLEM?. Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology. January 2007;34(1/2):1-9.
7. Watenpaugh D. The Role of Sleep Dysfunction in Physical Inactivity and its Relationship to Obesity. Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College Of Sports Medicine). November 2009;8(6):331-338.



The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.