People with narcolepsy are prone to weight gain, often overweight

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Obesity | Friday, February 19, 2016 - 01:30 PM

People with narcolepsy are prone to weight gain, often overweightPeople with narcolepsy are prone to weight gain and are often overweight. Narcolepsy is characterized by excessive sleepiness, but the new findings suggest it can also increase weight gain. The findings further unveil that even if narcoleptics consume less than those without the condition, they are still prone to weight gain.

The researchers found that deficiency in a hormone – known as orexin – may be to blame, as it encourages hunger and wakefulness, leaving individuals with a lack of energy-burning brown fat. The findings suggest that orexin-targeted weight loss therapies may help narcoleptics and others who are overweight.

There are two types of fat: white and brown. White fat stores calories, whereas brown fat works to burn calories by generating heat.

The evidence found in mice suggests that orexin is crucial for the formation of mature brown fat, but with minimal orexin, brown fat activity drops. Mice injected with orexin showed substantial fat loss. The findings also reveal that those with minimal brown fat are essentially predisposed from birth to live an overweight life, as their bodies simply do not have the mechanisms to burn fat like others with more brown fat.

There are ways to naturally promote brown fat, for example, spending time in the cold. But the study suggests, orexin-specific treatments may help those struggling to lose weight as well.

Manage weight to improve health with narcolepsy

Low activity levels are common in narcolepsy patients as they suffer from excessive sleepiness. Along with lack of activity and hormone deficiencies, as explored in the recent study, weight gain is common in narcolepsy. But even though there are factors that work against narcoleptic patients, promoting weight gain, there are still things that patients can do in order to better manage their weight and improve health outcomes.

Tips to help manage weight to improve health with narcolepsy:

  • Exercise – not only does it promote weight loss, but it boosts alertness, too.
  • Eat a proper diet like fruits and vegetables and steer clear of processed foods.
  • Consider daily naps to promote alertness.
  • Stick with a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time.
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex in order to promote a restful environment – basically, don’t watch TV or bring your work to bed to avoid sleeping difficulties.
  • Wind down prior to bed to promote relaxation.
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine before bed.
  • Avoid bright light before bed as it can mess with melatonin production.

Speaking to your doctor, too, can help devise a plan to improve health outcomes and promote weight loss even with narcolepsy.


Related Reading:

Narcolepsy: signs and symptoms

Maybe you live a busy life, so sometimes when you’re at your desk or sitting in front of the couch, you catch yourself slowly dozing off. Sure, if you’re at home, taking a nap is okay, but you can’t fall asleep at work or while driving. Tiredness and low energy have a lot to do with stress and quality of sleep. So if you’re experiencing fatigue, you may attribute it to how you’ve been sleeping or the stressors in your life. Continue reading…

Hypersomnia causes daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and excessive tiredness

How much sleep did you get last night? Six, seven, maybe even up to nine hours? When we get minimal amounts of sleep, it makes sense to wake up tired, but when we have prolonged amounts of sleep and still wake up tired, then we have a problem. Continue reading…

Sources:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-10/cp-wng093011.php
http://www.narcolepsynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Narcolepsy-and-You-Brochure.pdf
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Narcolepsy/Pages/Treatment.aspx


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