search
Health Insiders
Do Sleepless Nights Prevent us from Losing Weight?

Do Sleepless Nights Prevent us from Losing Weight?

Learn how poor sleep can be a contributing factor to weight gain and different health issues.

Sleepless Nights Losing Weight

Sleep better for the rest of the night. Image via Shutterstock

Is your sleep deprivation preventing you from losing weight?

The title of this article may have caught your attention as you may be one of the many who are sleep deprived. You may question if this is true, can sleep affect your weight?


Do sleepless nights really cause weight gain?

Does lack sleep cause belly fat?

Does sleeping well really help with losing weight?

You may have heard that you need at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Maybe you heard it growing up and you may remember your mom telling you to get to bed on time. You may think this is so you will be well-rested for the next day.

While this is true, sleepless nights and sleep deprivation can cause more negative effects for us[4]. You may be able to function on less than 8 hours of sleep. Or so you think. Do you know that sleepless nights can cause you to have health issues including weight gain?

Sleepless nights or sleep deprivation happens when you sleep fewer than 7 hours a night. It is also when you do not sleep well even if you are in bed for longer than 7 hours.

Insomnia is a reason why you may not be sleeping for at least 7 hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insomnia is when you are not able to fall asleep or stay asleep. So, you may be in bed for more than 7 hours and still have a sleepless night as a result of insomnia.

Sleep is very important when it comes to weight loss and overall health. Sleep is so important that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[1] has contributed poor sleep to health issues such as:

  • Weight gain
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Obesity[2]

Sleep Is No Longer A Luxury; It Must Be A Priority.

Yet how many hours of sleep are you getting? It is recommended that you sleep at least 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep, not poor sleep. You may be a poor sleeper and here are signs that you may be one:

  • Tossing and turning
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up in the middle of the night
  • Hitting the snooze button
  • Waking up tired
  • Sleeping less than 7 hours
Women who sleep 5 hours or less gain more weight and are at a higher risk for obesity compared to those who sleep longer. Those who sleep 7 hours or longer are not as affected.

You may be wondering why is sleep so important to my weight? What happens when I don’t sleep well?

Sleepless Nights Cause Weight Gain In A Variety Of Ways

1. Caffeine and Stress:

First, when you do not sleep well, you are lacking the energy needed. You wake up tired and may grab that cup of coffee or black tea or energy drink to help you wake up. Depending on how tired you are you may drink more caffeine throughout the day.

Caffeine is not just in coffee.

It is found in:

  • Black tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Any foods that are flavored with chocolate or coffee
  • Over the counter headache medications

Caffeine naturally increases your levels of cortisol when you are not experiencing stress. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone.

Cortisol is needed so that you and your body can properly function when under stress. But your body cannot tell if you are under stress because you are running from a lion or because you are 10 minutes late for work. Your body just knows you are stressed and releases the stress hormone cortisol[6].

Do you drink some form of caffeine when you are stressed?
When we do this, we are increasing cortisol even more. In fact, when you are experiencing stress, even if it is mild, and drink caffeine it increases your levels of cortisol and it stays high longer[6].

Too much cortisol hormone can lead to weight gain.

How stressed are you? You do not need to be completely stressed out. Even low chronic stress can cause higher cortisol levels over a longer period and, as a result, weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

So, when you drink that extra cup of java because you are tired and stressed, you are increasing your body’s cortisol levels.

High cortisol levels:

  • Cause you to eat more
  • Causes you crave sugary fatty foods

2. Leptin, Ghrelin, and Sleep Deprivation

Leptin is a hormone that tells you that you do not need to eat. It has been called the satiety hormone, that is, it makes you feel satisfied and you do not need to eat more. When leptin is high you are not hungry.

Ghrelin is a hormone that does the opposite as it causes you to be hungry and it increases your appetite.

When you lack good sleep:

  • Your levels of leptin are decreased
  • Your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is increased
  • You are hungry
  • You eat high calorie foods
  • You eat more food

Just two nights of sleep deprivation, sleeping four hours or less, affects your levels of leptin and ghrelin.

Here is what happens:

  • Your levels of leptin, the hormone that helps to decrease your appetite are lowered by 18%.
  • The hunger hormone ghrelin is increased by 28%.
  • You eat higher calorie foods and eat more of them

Even if you get 5 hours of sleep there is a 15% decrease in leptin levels and a similar increase in ghrelin levels.

It has been found that the “sweet spot” of how long you need to sleep to prevent these changes and weight gain is 7 hours or more.

Sleepless nights do indeed cause weight gain. So those nights where you get less than 7 hours of good sleep are harming you and either causing you to gain weight or making it difficult to lose the weight.

How do you sleep well so you do not gain weight?

How do you prevent those sleepless nights so you can lose weight?

First, know what is preventing you from sleeping well.

Are you getting in bed at a decent time? Do you get at least 7 hours of sleep? Are you not sleeping through the night?

Stress and back pain while sleeping are two reasons you may not be sleeping well[7].

Other reasons for sleepless nights are drinking caffeine late in the day, drinking alcohol before bedtime, and having difficulty falling asleep. Here are some remedies to help you to sleep better.

To alleviate stress and improve your quality of sleep:

  • Journal before going to bed and write down any thoughts that are running in your head
  • Settle into bed with a novel or spiritual book
  • Meditate

To alleviate back pain and get a better night’s rest:

  • Place a pillow under your knees to help with lower back pain
  • Hug a pillow to your chest to alleviate shoulder pain if you sleep on your side

Another reason why many of you are not getting enough sleep is you are not falling asleep easily. The longer it takes to fall asleep, the more stressed you get, especially if you need to get up earlier the next day[5].

Here are tips to help you fall asleep faster:

  • Power down an hour earlier by shutting off the TV, computer, and cell phone
  • Take a shower
  • Infuse lavender essential oil
  • Play calming mediation music

How To Prevent Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night?

Eating before bedtime also interferes with you sleeping well. Have you ever waken up in the middle of the night?

If you eat a meal within three hours of bedtime it increases your insulin levels. This causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.

Also, drinking caffeine and alcoholic beverages before bedtime interferes with your sleep. You may already be aware of the effects of caffeine before bedtime, but do you know that drinking alcohol also interrupts your sleep?

Yes, alcohol does make us feel sleepy, but it causes your sleep to be affected in that you do not sleep well the rest of the night.

Do not drink alcohol 60 minutes before going to bed. This will help you to sleep better for the rest of the night.

As you have read, sleepless nights do cause you to gain weight[9]. They also prevent you from losing weight.

Start implementing these tips and you will be sleeping better and start losing some weight and lowering your risk for other health issues.

Feedback:

References

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, Aug 8). Sleep and chronic disease. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/chronic_disease.html
[2] Beccuti G.& Pannain S. (2011). Sleep and obesity. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 14(4), 402–412. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, Dec 10). Key sleep disorders. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/key_disorders.html
[4] Cooper, C.B., Neufeld, E.V., Dolezal, B.A., Martin, J. (2018). Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: A brief narrative review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 4: e000392. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000392
[5] Han, K.S., Kim, L., & Shim, I. (2012). Stress and sleep disorder. Experimental Neurobiology, (4), 141-150. doi:org/10.5607/en.2012.21.4.141 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538178/
[6] Lovallo, W., Farag, N., Vincent, A., Thomas, T. & Wilson, M. (2006). Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 83(3). 441-447. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2006.03.005.
[7] Marin, R., Cyhan, T., & Miklos, W. (2006). Sleep disturbance in patients with chronic low back pain. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 85(5), 430-435. doi: 10.1097/01.phm.0000214259.06380.79
[8] Nedeltcheva, A.V. & Scheer, F.A J.L. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity, 21(4), 293–298. doi: 10.1097/MED. 0000000000000082 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24937041
[9] Patel, S.R., Malhotra, A. White, D.P., Gottlieb, D.J., & Hu, F.B. (2006). Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. American Journal of Epidemiology, (164) 10, 947–954. doi:org/10.1093/aje/kwj280 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16914506
Author
Facebook Twitter instagram

Pamela Pedrick, RN, CHC

Pamela Pedrick is a registered nurse and a certified health coach and is committed to helping women to see their value and worth and to...

More Posts

View All
X

How helpful was it?

icon This article changed my life! icon This article was informative. icon I have a medical question.
X

How helpful was it?

icon This article changed my life! Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X

How helpful was it?

icon This article was informative. Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X
icon I have a medical question. Change

We’re unable to offer personal health advice, but we’ve partnered with JustAnswer who offers on-demand doctors to answer your medical questions 24/7. Talk online now with a doctor and get fast 1-on-1 answers from the comfort of your couch.

just answer logo
ASK A DOCTOR NOW

If you’re facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

X

How can we improve it?

icon This article contains incorrect information. icon This article doesn’t have the information I’m looking for. icon I have a medical question.
X

How can we improve it?

icon This article contains incorrect information. Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X

How can we improve it?

icon This article doesn’t have the information I’m looking for. Change
Your Rating
Note: Health Insiders isn't a healthcare provider. We can't respond to health questions or give you medical advice.
Your Privacy is important to us.
X
icon I have a medical question. Change

We’re unable to offer personal health advice, but we’ve partnered with JustAnswer who offers on-demand doctors to answer your medical questions 24/7. Talk online now with a doctor and get fast 1-on-1 answers from the comfort of your couch.

just answer logo
ASK A DOCTOR NOW

If you’re facing a medical emergency, call your local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

X

Healthinsiders.com is intended to be used for educational and information purposes only. All Health Insiders content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a board of medical experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, medical authorities, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

Medical Disclaimer: This product/supplement review is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health-related diagnosis or treatment options.

Health Insiders does not assume liability for any actions undertaken after visiting these pages and does not assume liability if one misuses supplements. Healthinsiders.com and its Editors do not ensure that unforeseen side effects will not occur even at the proper dosages, and thereby does not assume liability for any side effects from supplements or practices hosted under the domain of Healthinsiders.com.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date, or any otherwise dubious content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.