The connection between sleep and weight loss


It’s no secret that a poor night’s sleep leaves you feeling less than ideal the next day. It’s when we sleep that our bodies repair and rejuvenate. Even short term sleep deprivation can have serious side effects. But if you have ever spent the night watching the minutes pass-by then you know that inadequate sleep leads to decreased concentration, brain function, low energy, and feeling off the next day.

The weight loss connection

As if you need more reason to aim for a good night’s sleep, you can add weight to the big list of things sleep effects. While a night spent tossing and turning can hinder the most determined weight loss efforts, a blissful night’s rest sets you up for diet success.

The amount and quality of your sleep affects the hormones in the body that control feelings of hunger and fullness—two feelings that have a big impact on day-to-day weight management. These two hormones are ghrelin and leptin which have discussed in many articles.

  • Ghrelin, which is produced in the GI tract, is the hormone that stimulates appetite, causing you to feel hungry.
  • Leptin is produced in the fat cells and is responsible for sending a signal to your brain that you are full.

When we’re well rested these hormones work in balance doing their duty to alert us when it’s time to eat, and time to put the fork down. However, when you are sleep deprived, levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) rise, and leptin (the one that tells you to stop eating) plummet, and this sets the stage for overeating and/or irresponsible eating choices. When sleep is restricted to 4 hours per night over 2 nights, leptin can drop by 18%, while ghrelin can increase by an average of 28%. To make matters even worse, sleeping poorly leaves you more inclined to eat sugary, refined carbs. This connection is well researched and established, but I pretty sure most people have experienced it themselves.

A good night’s sleep will help you lose weight

More often then not, when these hormones are out of whack, one of two things happens. Either portion control goes out the window and you end up eating more than you needed to, or you are left feeling hungry, deprived and unmotivated with the attempt to be healthy in the first place. To make matters worse, the changes in brain function from not getting a good night’s sleep cause us to crave junk food.

Simply put, not getting enough sleep leads to extreme feelings of hunger the next day, even if we’ve had enough to eat… and it will be much harder it is to stick to healthy, responsible eating habits.

On the flip side, getting adequate sleep only helps us stay on track and eat responsibly. Our hormones will get in sync as they’re intended to, we feel energized and focused to go about your weight management plans as planned. Free from sleep-induced hunger-and-satiety hurdles, weight loss efforts are simply easier to maintain.

How to improve sleep

Getting good quality sleep is often easier said than done. In my experience sleep habits are more difficult than eating ones. So here is some simple pointers.

  • In my opinion a good night is a result of low resting heart rate.
  • Try to sleep at the same time every day.
  • Find a routine that allows you to relax before sleep. Dedicate 30 minutes to relaxing. Maybe take a shower and read a sci-fi book.
  • Take your mind off the problems and worries. Write the next days urgent tasks down and park them. It is time to relax.
  • Remove electrical devices and reduce blue light.

Further further reading

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