Q&A: How Sleep Helps Weight Loss

  • Written by: Amanda Myers

People die faster from sleep deprivation than hunger. When you're sleep deprived, your body experiences hormonal changes including an increase in blood pressure in the first 24 hours and more physiological changes occur in the next few days eventually leading to death.

Most of us think that inactivity, like sitting on a couch or sleeping for hours, will make us fat but recent studies show that this is not entirely true. Sleeping for a few hours can, in fact, make us fat. This article helps in explaining why a lack of sleep is a big factor on why you are not losing weight despite your efforts to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

Less sleep lowers body energy

When your energy is low; you feel lazy and less motivated to exercise. Because you lack energy, you may not be able to exercise for long hours.

You may have also noticed that when you lack energy you always feel hungry and your cravings for sweets and other unhealthy food increases.

Less sleep increases appetite

When you have less sleep, the two hormones called leptin and ghrelin don't work as they normally would. Leptin is your satiety hormone that is responsible for making you feel satisfied after a meal. When you're satisfied, you are unable to control your yourself from eating more which can lead to weight gain.

On the other hand, ghrelin is your hunger hormone. When it's not working normally, you are unable to control your hunger so you crave for more food even when you just ate a big meal.

Less sleep affects your brain

Have you experienced feeling dizzy and unable to focus or think properly when you didn't have enough sleep? It is because less sleep affects your brain processes. When you are sleep deprived, you are more prone to lack of self-control and bad decision-making.

The inability to control yourself leads to eating more food and eating unhealthy food. It goes the same thing with bad decision making. When you haven't had enough sleep, you tend to make bad decisions when choosing what to eat and whether to eat or not.

Affects other body processes

When it comes to losing weight, people always talk about metabolism - the body's ability to convert food to energy. When metabolism is low, the body tends to store food as fat instead of converting it to energy.

It is also widely known that the metabolism rate per person varies depending on age, sex, muscle mass, height, and weight. The more you age, the more you will likely have a low metabolism rate which explains why people get bigger as they get older. So, people nowadays don't just exercise and go on a diet to lose weight but they also take supplements, drink tea or food shakes to improve their metabolic rate.

Recent studies show that sleep has a big impact on metabolic rate. The body's ability to process insulin (a hormone responsible for converting food to energy) gets disrupted storing food as fat instead of using it as energy when we lack sleep.

Basically, several body processes that affect our weight gets disrupted when we lack sleep including protein synthesis (the body's ability to make muscle).


Overall, sleep is as important as diet and exercise in losing weight. When you have enough sleep; you have enough energy, proper mindset and normal hormonal levels to support and achieve your fitness goals.