sleep to lose weight

Sleep To Lose Weight: Why Sleep Affects Weight Loss

Did you know that you need sleep to lose weight ? No, I am not talking about some magic pill or a magic potion that will help you lose weight while you sleep. I am talking about the fact that a lack of sleep may cause you weight gain and/or hamper your efforts to lose weight.

As simplistic as the idea sounds, scientific research suggests a surprising link between weight management and sleep. Interestingly, when women are struggling with stubborn pounds, better sleep is almost always a cure.

Unfortunately, our society has become more and more fast paced. Juggling the kids and careers, working long hours or working at more than one job to keep ahead, leaves precious little time for luxuries such as sleep.

Less than 25% of people get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. That means that 75% of people do not! This is a fascinating finding, considering that between 75 – 80% of our population is overweight. It makes me wonder if this is just an interesting coincidence or if these two percentages are directly related.

Research Shows That Lack Of Sleep Prevents You From Loosing Weight

According to research, the less you sleep, the more weight you are likely to gain. As well, if you are on a weight loss diet, the less you sleep the smaller is the chance of losing weight. According to research:

  • people who sleep 6 hours increase their risk of gaining weight by 23%
  • people who sleep 5 hours increase their risk of gaining weight by 50%
  • people who sleep 4 hours increase their risk of gaining weight by 75%

The recommended amount of sleep is between 7 and 8 hours. (This depends on the individual. Let your body decide.)

Why Lack Of Sleep Causes You To Gain Weight

It is believed that the sleep deprivation is perceived by the body as stress. At the time of stress your body refuses to give up its stored fuel (fat) for energy. As a result one feels tired and hungry and the body will do it’s utmost to gather more fuel. You eat more, you make wrong food choices and you give in to your cravings.

Sleep relaxes the body. When your body is relaxed, the body will slow down and willingly release the stored energy without prodding you to eat. In other words, you need to sleep to de-stress and subsequently you will not gain any weight or you will be able to lose weight if you are on a weight loss plan

Biochemical Basis Of Why You Need To Sleep To Lose Weight

According to research, insufficient or impaired sleep causes an imbalance of a number of hormones that influence your eating behavior. Two of the major players are leptin and ghrelin. They pretty well dictate our satiety and hunger levels, respectively. Hormonal imbalance of leptin and ghrelin will sabotage your efforts to lose weight.

Leptin is a protein secreted by stored fat. Under normal circumstances, this protein shuts off your hunger and it makes you feel full. Leptin also stimulates your body to burn more fat. (Source)

Ghrelin is a protein that is secreted by the stomach when the stomach is empty. In a sense, it announces to the brain and the body that it is time to replenish because you are hungry.(Source)

When you lack sleep

your ghrelin levels increase and you feel hungry.

leptin levels decrease and your hunger persists.

As a result, despite the fact that you ate, you feel hungry. Hence the cravings. As you can see from this simple explanation you need to sleep to  keep “hormonal harmony” and primarily to keep your cravings and hunger pangs in check. Only then will you be able to stop gaining weight without obvious reasons and effectively losing weight when you are dieting.

In addition, sleep deprivation also results in a diminished production of “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. The deficiency in these leads you to crave sugary and starchy foods.


In summary, a lack of sleep or interrupted sleep makes you tired, hungry (because of leptin and ghrelin imbalance) and unhappy (because of imbalance of “feel good” hormones). This imbalanced state makes you eat more and crave the wrong types of foods. As well, a lack of sleep interferes with your body’s ability to burn fat for energy.

As you are well aware, weight loss requires that you watch what you put in your mouth. As you can see, you definitely need to get enough sleep so that you and not your hormones are in control of your food choices and hunger.

Going back over the 101 Healthy Weight Loss Tips article you can find on the home page, I noticed that the “need to sleep” tip was all the way down at #73. In retrospect, this tip really should be somewhere at the beginning. You definitely need your sleep to lose weight. There is no question about that.

Some people have a difficulty falling asleep, even if they have time to go to bed early. There are some natural ways to overcome this problem. You can read all about it here…

Please make sure to leave a comment below or on this site’s Facebook page and let me know if you are getting enough sleep. I bet you that most women will say no.


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