Sleep and Weight Loss: The Science

Sleep and Weight Loss: The Science

Sleep and Weight Loss have a connection. If you’re struggling to lose weight, you should consider your sleep habits.

We all need sleep, but rarely prioritize it. Sleeping less than the recommended amount increases the risk of certain health issues, including obesity.

But what about sleep duration — or lack thereof — contributes to weight gain?

We’ve teamed up with WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) to discuss how sleep habits affect weight loss, how sleep deprivation affects appetite, and the benefits of good sleep hygiene.

Sleep and weight gain

You may believe you’re getting enough sleep, but unless you’re sleeping for at least 7 hours most nights, you may be falling short of the adult sleep guidelines.

Adults aged 18 to 60 should aim for 7 hours or more of sleep per night, according to the CDC. For those aged 61-64, this rises to 7-9 hours.

In 2014, about 35% of American adults slept less than 7 hours per night.

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine states that sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours per night increases the risk of:

  • depression
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • obesity
  • weight gain

A 2013 research review found. According to Trusted Source, lack of sleep increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.

Unhealthy adults who slept for only 5 hours per night for 5 nights gained an average of 1.8 pounds, according to a 2013 Trusted Source study.

Insomnia and aversion to

If you want to lose weight, cutting calories is often the first step.

If your appetite hormones (ghrelin and leptin) are out of whack, you may eat more than your body requires.

Ghrelin stimulates appetite by signaling hunger in the brain. Leptin suppresses hunger and signals fullness in the brain.

Sleep deprivation causes the body to produce more ghrelin and less leptin. This may cause overeating.

In fact, a 2004 study found that people who slept less had higher ghrelin levels than those who slept enough. The group that slept less had 15.5 percent lower leptin levels.

Sleep deprivation and cravings

You are not alone in finding it difficult to say no to less nutritious foods when you are tired.

A 2016 randomized controlled trialTrusted Source found that lack of sleep increases the desire for high-calorie foods and decreases resistance to them.

Less sleep altered levels of endocannabinoids, which affect appetite and the brain’s reward system.

On sleep-deprived days, endocannabinoid levels were higher and lasted longer, especially in the afternoon.

Leaky slumber

Exercise is essential to losing weight and staying healthy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have the energy to move.

However, sleepiness and fatigue tend to increase sedentary behavior. This reduces exercise and physical activity.

Sleep hygiene tips

Developing good sleep habits can help you fall and stay asleep. Here are some suggestions:

  • Create a nightly routine that includes relaxing activities like bathing, reading, or listening to music.
  • Dim the lights and set the thermostat to 65°F (18.3°C) for a peaceful night’s sleep.
  • Aim to get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Turn off electronics (phone, TV, computer) 60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals late at night.
  • Reduce your stress levels by meditating, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques.
  • Get 30 minutes or more of exercise per day.
  • Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if changing your sleep habits does not help.

The gist

Sleep and Weight Loss have a connection. Diet and exercise are only a part of weight loss. Getting enough sleep each night may also help.

Developing healthy sleep habits can help you lose weight and keep it off.


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