4 Reasons Why Sleep Loss May Cause You To Gain Weight

If you’ve tried to lose weight, you know it’s not easy. But for some of us, it’s even more difficult. Some dieters who are eating less and exercising more still have a hard time dropping those extra pounds. Why? One answer may lie in their sleep habits.

Recent scientific studies show a strong relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain.  Here are some of the findings:

  • People who slept less than six hours a night experienced an increase in their body mass index (height-to-weight ratio) more than those who slept seven to eight hours.
  • Women who slept five hours a day, or less, gained more weight than those who slept seven hours a day, according to a 16-year study.
  • People who slept less than eight hours a day had larger increases in body fat than those who slept more.


Why this happens


1) More likely to overeat– studies show that when the body is sleep deprived it triggers a response and craving for energy. The appetite-trigger hormone grehlin starts to circulate throughout the body causing a hunger for a high-calorie energy boost. It does not care at this point where that energy comes from and could care less about a well-balanced meal. Instead the cravings are usually for fattening overloaded carbs.

2) Impairs the metabolic process. With a loss of sleep, your body may not be able to metabolize carbohydrates as well, which leads to an increased storage of fats and higher levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body has trouble disposing of glucose in the liver and other tissues. It is a trigger for serious health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes.

3) Body releases Cortisol – Sleep deprivation causes our body to “stress out”. When our body is under stress our adrenal glands produce a stress hormone called cortisol. What is that bad? Well cortisol triggers a release of insulin, a hormone which has been linked to fat storage in numerous studies. This cortisol bully has also been linked to the following dangers:

  1. Reduced growth hormone, and testosterone output.
  2. Osteoporosis.
  3. Reduced muscle and increased abdominal fat.
  4. Impaired memory and learning.
  5. Reduced glucose utilization.
  6. Impaired immunity.


4) Lack of motivation and energy – A lack of sleep goes hand in hand with a lack of energy – not a new concept, but perhaps you’ve grown used to your daily levels of energy and don’t notice that you could gain more. Not only do we accomplish less with less sleep, we also don’t burn as many calories. The body’s reaction is to hoard calories as fat, making our weight loss goals more difficult than they need to be.

But I don’t need to lose weight…

If weight loss is not important to you that doesn’t mean that sleep should still not be equally important. Check out all the other dangerous effects of sleep loss.



And just how much sleep is enough? Different people have different needs, of course, but the standard recommendation has long been for adults to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

If you are having trouble sleeping I recommend checking out this Lifehacker article on The 10 Tricks For Getting Better Sleep 


Sleep and gain weight


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