You were probably wondering is lack of sleep causing weight gain ?
Well, lucky you that you stumbled across this article where I am going to explain everything you need to know about sleep and weight gain.
With the hustle and bustle, the constant need to be connected, and so many responsibilities pulling in so many different directions, it is almost impossible not have these two things be apparent.
Maybe you do a little late night scrolling on your phone and netflix binge watching.
Maybe you are a shift worker who sleeps weird hours.
Either way, I will take you through the science of what the relationship between lack of sleep has with your metabolism, hormones, and cortisol.
You will know how lack of sleep affects other areas of your life and if it is causing a major hinderance to your weight loss journey or not.
By the end of the article you will leave here knowing what to do moving forward.
All I ask is that keep your eyes peeled to the entire article.
There are millions os searched on google for “ is lack of sleep causing weight gain ?”, about 46 million at the time this article was written.
Therefore I want to make sure you leave here knowing exactly what the deal is.
Cool? Awesome. Let’s dive in.
Is Lack Of Sleep Causing Weight Gain?
First Things First
Before we talk about gaining or losing weight, let’s talk about what occurs for either one of those two things to happen.
Your weight is determined by an energy balance equation, energy in and energy out.
Our bodies use calories as our unit of energy, therefore this can be simplified to calories eaten and calories burned.
If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, which is a calorie surplus.
If you eat the same amount of calories as your body burns, you will maintain your weight, which is a calorie maintenance.
If you eat less calories than your body burns, you will lose weight, which is a calorie deficit.
This is not up for debate.
Now, there are things that influence this energy balance equation. For example your metabolism may be faster than mine, in which case, you would burn more calories than I do.
If you want some scientifically proven ways to increase your metabolism, watch this video I did HERE.
Yet the fact still remains true, this energy balance equation is what leads to what your weight is.
Tying this into this article in particular, if you are reading this article you are probably wondering is lack of sleep causing weight gain.
In which I will respond what causes weight gain is you being in a calorie surplus.
How can sleep affect this? Let’s talk about it now.
Lack Of Sleep And Hormones
Everyone is very quick to run to things like hormones and metabolism when they are not losing weight.
I want to cover what is going on in your body hormonally when you are not getting adequate sleep.
For the purpose of this article “adequate sleep” is referred to 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.
There are two hormones in your body called Leptin and Ghrelin.
Leptin decreases appetite.
Ghrelin increases appetite.
When you sleep through the night Leptin is increased and Ghrelin is decreased.
You are sleeping. Your body is going through its parasympathetic responses of recovering, digesting food, and so on. It does not need to be fed.
This leads Leptin to be increased telling your body you are not hungry.
However, when you are awake, your body is not in this parasympathetic state and Leptin is not being increased.
This leads to Ghrelin being increased. This causes you to be hungrier, have more cravings, and have a bigger appetite.
If we refer back to the beginning, the only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit.
If you are constantly under sleeping this means your Leptin is constantly lowered and Ghrelin is constantly increased.
This leads to you being hungrier, leading you to intake more calories.
If you constantly intake more calories than what your body is burning, that would mean you are in a calorie surplus.
Leading to, you guessed it, weight gain.
Therefore the answer to the question of is lack of sleep causing weight gain is, possibly.
Yet it is not because it is inherently the lack of sleep, it is what comes after the lack of sleep.
You are hungrier due to an increased appetite from your hormones being out of whack. This leads you to intake more calories. You go into a calorie surplus, leading to weight gain.
Is Lack Of Sleep Causing Weight Gain?
Decreased Energy Expenditure
It is hard enough to get up early in the morning and workout as it is.
You don’t want to get out of your comfy and cozy bed.
Or even if you workout at night time.
You get done a stressful work day, you have your kids to take care of, and you have dinner to make.
You have other responsibilities pulling at you to begin with. Working in exercise can be a struggle as is.
Therefore do you really think lack of sleep is going to help that cause?
You are going to wake up in the morning, fresh off 4 hours of sleep, and proceed to say to hell with this I am staying in bed.
Rather maybe you are driving home from work, again fresh off 4 hours of sleep and a stress filled work day on top of that.
This will lead to you saying to hell with this, I am tired. I am going home, skipping my workout, and sitting on the couch to binge watch Netlfix.
Which, me and you both know, comes with snacks. Snacks that aren’t 0 calories celery or pickles. Yet we will get to that later in this article.
Recall the information we started off this article with, weight loss or weight gain comes down to an energy balance equation.
If you are getting inadequate sleep you are now decreasing the energy you expend during the day, aka less calories burned.
When you eat the same as you normally would, but burn less calories, what is this going to do?
Ah, you are smart! Yes, again, it will lead to you being in a calorie surplus and gaining weight.
Yet again, it is not inherently the lack of sleep.
We can ask the same question as we asked earlier, is lack of sleep causing weight gain ?
The answer will be the same, possibly.
It is the fact that from this lack of sleep you affect the energy balance equation in your life tipping towards the weight gain side as opposed to the weight loss side.
Increased Energy Intake
In one scientific research study, Individuals who were sleep deprived ate an average of ~385 more calories than those who got adequate sleep each night.
This can largely be connected with the fact that when you are sleep deprived your Ghrelin increases which in turns increases your appetite, like we mentioned earlier.
Let’s bring this back to our scenario above where you are on the couch binge watching Netflix, an all too familiar site for so many of us.
You get home from a stressful day at work, tired from the 4 hours of sleep and from the emotional stress at work.
Do you really think you are going to have the willpower to sit there and say “Man, I can’t wait to put a ton of effort into cooking a healthy low calorie dinner!”.
Yea, let’s not kid ourselves. It is going to go more like “What can I eat so my kids will leave me alone and I can just get some peace and quiet”.
“Healthy eating” becomes an afterthought. You have a dinner that you know isn’t the healthiest option yet you eat it anyway because you are tired and just want to sit down and relax.
This normally is not the most beneficial thing when looking to take steps closer to your weight loss goals.
Yet it doesn’t normally stop there.
I mentioned that when you are sitting there on the couch, you are not normally snacking on 0 calorie celery and pickles.
What are you usually snacking on? Be honest.
You are snacking on chips, pretzels, cookies. In other words, all highly palatable snacks.
You aren’t just having one cookie or one pretzel. You are taking a few handfuls and enjoying them.
Therefore now are you not only skipping your workout and sitting on the couch instead, but you are intaking more calories than you would have because you are on the couch snacking.
This, once again, decreases your calories burned and increases your calories taken in.
Which, for the final time you guessed it, leads to weight gain.
As opposed to if you were well rested you would getting your workout in, which would increase your energy expenditure.
You would also have more energy and willpower to be able to make a healthy dinner and skip the late night snacking.
Is Lack Of Sleep Causing Weight Gain?
Break The Chain
Now you know the answer to the question is lack of sleep causing weight gain is possibly, what do you do about it?
First and foremost realize it.
As mentioned earlier, in a 24 hour constant up to date world that we live in, so many people are totally unaware of the negative health effects are coming from lack of sleep.
You have now made yourself aware by reading this article, in which I congratulate you.
Also, you have learned that is not inherently the lack of sleep that is packing fat on your body.
Weight gain or weight loss comes down to an energy balance equation we talked about earlier.
Rather it is what you do after you are sleep deprived that leads to weight gain.
The lack of sleep is leading you to have an increased appetite and eat more.
It is leading you to have less energy during the day, leading you to expend less energy during the day, aka calories burned.
The lifestyle factors that get affected and cause you to intake more calories and burn less calories is what is leading to the weight gain.
What do you do next?
There is something called Break The Chain that I use with a ton of my online coaching clients.
There is a chain of events that is leading you to skip your workouts.
It isn’t that in that one moment in time you decide you are not going to workout. There are certain events that led up to that decision.
You got inadequate sleep, you were tired, and you were hangry so you went home instead of working out.
Yet, in the same way you have to cut the head off of the snake, you have to break the chain of events to create a different outcome.
In this scenario it is getting adequate sleep.
What can you do to improve your sleep?
Simple things like.
- Having no phone activity 30 minutes before bed
- Journaling for 5 minutes before bed
- Stretching for 5 minutes before bed
- Making an “appointment” with yourself in the morning to wake up to motivate yourself to be well rested for (aka a workout)
Amongst many others can help.
Yet I have a funny feeling you know exactly what you need to do.
You just needed this article to be that kick in the pants you needed to do it.
Got The Answer To Is Lack Of Sleep Causing Weight Gain?
Didn’t I tell you you were going to leave this article knowing everything about lack of sleep and weight gain?
I know it can be incredibly difficult to make sleep a priority in your life with all of your other responsibilities pulling at you.
Yet I hope this article shed some light as to why sleep should be right at the top of your priority list.
I make sure all of my online coaching clients know what I am about to tell you.
Fill your cup up, so you can fill everyone else’s up.
You are a people pleaser. You want to take care of everyone else, and that is admirable.
What you realize is if you are tired, overweight, and not in good health, do you really think everyone is going to get the best version of you?
No, they will be getting 40 50 60% of you.
As opposed to if you got adequate sleep, improved your energy, and improved your health, you would be able to set the world on fire more than you are right now.
Which I know is what you want for you and those around you.
Use this article to make that change in your life. You can do this.
Here to help if you need me 🙂
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196958/ sleep deprivation + obesity
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4394987/ lack of sleep + insulin resistance
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/93/6/1229/4597726?itm_medium=sidebar&itm_content=ajcn&itm_source=trendmd-widget&itm_campaign=trendmd-pilot lack of sleep + decreased energy expenditure
https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn2016201 sleep deprivation and increased calorie intake