The Relationship between Sleep and Weight Loss

Most people focus on diet and exercise as the keys to maintaining a healthy weight or achieving weight loss. It’s true that eating the right foods and engaging in physical activities are extremely important elements of an effective wellness routine. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that getting an adequate amount of sleep is an equally critical component of maintaining a healthy weight. Here you can read more about how sleep and weight loss are interlinked.

Sleep goes down, weight goes up

According to research, there’s an inverse relationship between sleep and weight. People who sleep less tend to weigh more — and be more susceptible to gaining excess weight over the years. Scientists have noted that in middle age, adults who sleep seven or more hours per night are less likely to be obese than those who get fewer than seven hours of sleep. 

One research project tracked the sleep habits and weight of nearly 70,000 women for 16 years. The study found that the number of hours participants slept per night has a significant effect on the likelihood of weight gain: those who slept five hours per night were 32% more likely to gain 33 pounds or more than women who slept at least seven hours per night. 

The Metabolic Link Between Sleep and Weight Loss

sleep and weight loss

Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases when people get too little sleep, which sends a signal to the body to conserve energy. One study found that when people who were already on a diet reduced the amount of time they slept over two weeks while maintaining the same calorie intake, their weight loss from losing fat plummeted by 55%. Participants also felt hungrier, and their energy levels dropped.  

Research conducted by the University of Chicago also found that just four days of inadequate sleep can reduce the body’s insulin processing capability. Insulin is essential in converting dietary sugar, starches and other foods into energy, and even less than a week of insufficient rest can reduce insulin sensitivity by over 30%, which triggers the body to store fat. 

The bottom line is that sleeplessness causes biochemical disruptions that put the body in crisis mode. That affects how often people eat and the foods they choose on a subconscious level too. Instead of a healthy meal choice, tired and stressed-out people tend to reach for high-carb, high-fat snacks and comfort food. Being chronically sleep-deprived can also reduce impulse control, contributing to the problem.

Making Sleep a Part of Healthy Weight Management

sleep and weight loss

Sleep alone may not help people lose weight, but research suggests it is an important component of healthy weight management. Addressing chronic insomnia is critical for many reasons, including benefits to overall health and wellness, mood, mental acuity, energy levels, and much more. Sleep’s effect on weight is yet another reason to address any sleep deprivation issues. 

Those who want to set themselves up for success in reaching or maintaining a healthy weight should therefore pay attention to how much rest they get. Creating a bedtime ritual to wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep can help, including setting and sticking to a regular bedtime, avoiding caffeine before sleep, shutting off blue light-emitting screens, and turning down the lights. 

Read more tips on how to fall asleep fast