Stay Fit

Poor Sleep and Weight Gain

Many people complain about gaining weight despite following an active and balanced lifestyle. But, what they don’t realise is that healthy sleeping habits have an important role to play when it comes to managing weight.

Did you know that inadequate sleep and inconsistent sleeping patterns are associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) and weight gain? They affect your energy levels while exercising and are, in effect, responsible for the extra sugar and caffeine that you probably consume in order to combat fatigue.

Does sleeping less lead to eating more?

Impulsive behaviours such as munching on oily and sugary foods (comfort foods) often take place when you are not getting proper sleep. This happens because a lack of sleep increases the levels of ghrelin in your body, the hormone that makes you feel hungry, thereby increasing your appetite. On the other hand, levels of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full, go down.

When people are sleep deprived, they also tend to consume more calories after dinner than they did in any other meal during the day. They feel a higher affinity towards foods that contain high amounts of carbohydrates and saturated fats.

Being awake for more hours doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have higher physical activity. In fact, sleeping for fewer hours than is recommended, makes you feel more lethargic, less attentive, and low on energy.

Lack of sleep also disrupts activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, and as a ripple effect, it sets us up to making bad decisions. Fatigue makes us crave comfort foods as a form of reward and in most cases, comfort foods are extremely unhealthy.

In a study conducted at the University of Chicago, sleep-deprived participants chose foods with twice as much fats as compared to those who slept for 8 hours or more. Moreover, a second study discovered that people eat bigger portions of all foods when they don’t get adequate sleep.

Does sleep deprivation eventually increase cortisol levels?

Lack of sleep makes people irritable and increases their stress levels. Higher stress levels trigger a spike in cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone). Even though a slight elevation in cortisol is normal, continued sleep deprivation makes your body release extremely high amounts of cortisol, which promotes the formation of visceral fat.

In simple terms, your body stores fatter to conserve energy and ends up using your other soft tissue, such as muscle, for energy which causes muscle loss and weight gain.

Sleep and Metabolism

When you’re short on sleep, your metabolism activity takes a hit. Basic metabolic functions such as storing carbohydrates, regulating hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, and appetite control are hampered.

Since sleep deprivation reduces insulin sensitivity, your body’s ability to process insulin also goes awry. Processing insulin efficiently is necessary in order to transform sugars and starches into energy, otherwise, your body ends up storing them as fat. This is another reason for gaining weight.

Tips For Better Sleep

Sleeping is the ultimate form of self-care and preservation for your mind and body.

Here are a few tips to help you sleep better and sleep right:

  • Follow a consistent sleep schedule religiously including weekends, and don’t forget to relax a few hours beforehand.
  • Watch what you eat a few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks, heavy or oily food, and alcohol since they might cause heartburn and become a hindrance to sleep.Caffeine can stay in your system for 5-6 hours. Alcohol and a good night’s sleep don’t mix well either because alcohol causes an imbalance between slow-wave sleep (most restorative sleep stage) and REM (Rapid Eye Movement stage, essential to memory and learning) sleep.
  • Avoid working or consuming media content and information in your bedroom. Save your bedroom for sleep, sex, and relaxation rather than work and entertainment.
  • Sleep in a dark room. Avoid using artificial lights such as night lights and bedside lamps.
  • Avoid all forms of blue lights an hour before you sleep. Blue lights are emitted by devices such as TVs, laptops, computers, smartphones, etc.
  • Relax your mind and try to reduce your stress levels. Chronic or acute stress can interfere with the body’s natural sleeping patterns.
  • Take a warm shower an hour or two before your bedtime. It improves the quality of sleep.
  • Take a warm shower an hour or two before your bedtime. It improves the quality of sleep.


The priority, in this blog, is to supply the reader with clear and unambiguous information. However, neither The New Me nor Gagan Dhawan makes promises, or guarantees regarding the completeness of the information found here. The content is not a replacement for advice of a licensed professional. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer’s.

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