Low levels of body fat can negatively affect sleep and mood

Low levels of body fat can negatively affect sleep and mood - AlphaFitness.Health

Low levels of body fat, particularly when achieved through extreme dieting or excessive exercise, can indeed negatively affect both sleep and mood. This phenomenon is often referred to as “lean athlete syndrome” or “relative energy deficiency in sport” (RED-S), and it can impact individuals who engage in intense physical training or maintain very low body fat percentages, such as competitive athletes and bodybuilders. Here’s how it can affect sleep and mood:

Sleep Disruption:

Insomnia: Extremely low body fat levels can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or difficulties falling and staying asleep. This can be due to hormonal imbalances, especially in women, which affect the sleep-wake cycle.

Night Sweats: Extremely lean individuals may experience excessive night sweats, which can make it uncomfortable to sleep and wake them during the night.

Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal disturbances: Low body fat can lead to hormonal imbalances, including a decrease in sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. These imbalances can have a negative impact on mood regulation and overall well-being.

Energy Deficiency:

Lack of energy: Maintaining very low body fat levels often means not consuming enough calories to support the body’s energy needs. This can lead to a constant feeling of fatigue, irritability, and a lack of mental clarity, which can negatively impact mood.

Increased Stress Response:

Heightened stress response: Low body fat levels can increase the body’s stress response, leading to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels are associated with mood disturbances and anxiety.

Depression and Irritability:

Depression and irritability: When the body is in a state of energy deficiency due to low body fat, it can lead to depressive symptoms and irritability. Individuals may experience mood swings and a decreased overall sense of well-being.

Cognitive Function:

Cognitive impairments: Low body fat can impair cognitive function, leading to difficulties in concentration, memory, and decision-making, which can affect mood and overall mental well-being.
It’s important to note that the negative effects on sleep and mood tend to be more pronounced in cases of extreme leanness, such as those seen in competitive bodybuilding or sports with weight class restrictions. For most individuals, maintaining a healthy and moderate level of body fat is key to overall well-being, including sleep quality and mood stability.

Below is a list of useful links:

If you’re concerned about your body fat levels or are experiencing sleep and mood disturbances related to low body fat, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who can provide guidance and support to help you achieve a healthier and sustainable balance.

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