Healthy Sleep

Can lack of sleep make you gain weight?

We’re all too familiar with the comforting feeling snacking brings when sleep-deprived and stressed. “I deserve it,” or “I need it,” you tell yourself as you open another bag of chips. It’s all fun and games until you start to notice a bit of weight gain.

We don’t wish to interrupt your snacking – but studies show that lack of sleep can actually make you gain weight. The figures for obesity have been doubling worldwide since the 1980s, while sleep-deprivation is becoming prevalent due to more fast-paced lifestyles. Now you know: it’s not just you, but also your environment.

Why Sleep Deprivation Makes You Gain Weight

Getting good quality sleep is vital to the body’s restoration. It’s necessary to perform neuroendocrine functions such as glucose metabolism, eating and drinking behaviour, energy expenditure, blood pressure, and heart rate.

When you lack sleep, your metabolism slows down. It's also not surprising to have low energy levels because the body was not able to perform its optimum restorative functions. The human body is smart enough to try and conserve energy by slowing down other bodily functions. An example is insulin insensitivity – a possible reason why you’re craving food rich in sugar and carbohydrates. And because of slow metabolism, the weight gain may follow not long after.

Sleep-deprivation can also create an imbalance on the hormones regulating your appetite. Ghrelin, the hormone that tells you when you’re hungry is higher when you lack sleep. Consequently, leptin, the hormone tasked to stop you from eating is lower when you lack sleep.

And the result? a raging appetite ready to devour all snacks.

Wait, does this mean comfort food is bad?

Of course not; anything in moderation is good. It’s the excessive snacking that is bad for you in the long run.

Waking up feeling unrefreshed might have you looking for a short-term energy boost. Before you even know it, you’re already succumbing to your second chocolate bar just because it feels SO good. It’s called comfort food for a reason!

What’s the solution to this?

Eat healthier. A no-brainer, choosing to eat food that can make you fuller for longer will help you avoid unnecessary snacking. It’s also been shown that people who lack sleep tend to eat breakfast with high sugar and carbohydrate content to give them the energy they lack. Others may not eat breakfast at all and overcompensate this with an entire day of snacking.

Take control of your sleeping habits. A long and sufficient sleep isn’t always tantamount to a good quality sleep. Some will sleep for eight hours and still wake up feeling groggy because of a latent sleep disorder. Research shows that high-quality sleep is correlated to regular sleeping habits. So, if you sleep the same time every day – sometimes even regardless of how long – you can wake up feeling energised.

Pay attention to the activities you do before sleeping too, such as the kind of exercise you do and the food you eat.

Sleep Well to Eat Well

The key to a holistic and healthy lifestyle is to get quality snooze! Make a conscious effort to sleep and eat well – your body will thank you for it.