How Inadquate Sleep Can Hinder Weight Loss

Here is another very useful shared blog post from Kathy Ahn of

Having problems losing weight? Maybe you need to sleep more.

Most people don’t consider sleep when they think about a weight loss plan, but more and more research is showing that lack of sleep can alter appetite and affect hunger in ways that can hinder weight loss efforts.

The author practicing what she preaches. Photo by Ineke Moss.

Two hormones play an important part in controlling appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that’s produced in the stomach that stimulates appetite, and leptin is produced primarily in white fat cells and inhibits appetite. Sleep deprivation alters both ghrelin and leptin levels. In one study, restricting sleep to four hours a night increased ghrelin and reduced leptin levels. These altered levels can make you feel hungry even if your body isn’t in real need of food.

A person who is chronically sleep deprived is more likely to be drawn to high calorie foods which are more prone to deposit around the middle where fat deposits are especially dangerous because they raise the risk of developing type II diabetes. To compound that danger, sleep deprivation alters a person’s ability to respond to higher glucose levels by releasing insulin. Lack of sleep can also lead to high blood pressure and increased weight, both of which are key risk factors for diabetes development. Chronic sleep deprivation also creates a pro-inflammatory state which increases both stress hormones and sugar levels in the body.

Sleep is also necessary for the physical recovery from exercise that is necessary for optimal results. For example if two women that are the same age and weight are both eating healthy and exercising regularly but one isn’t losing weight, the first thing to consider is whether or not she’s getting enough sleep.

More obviously, sleep deprivation affects mental accuity. Much like any other activity you do when you haven’t had enough sleep, you may not be performing your best or gaining the full benefits of the time you spend working out. Time that might have been better spent sleeping.

Sleep is a key component of your health and well-being. To make the most of your weight loss plan, remember to make sure to include adequate sleep in your daily routine (the average adult needs 8 – 8.5 hours a night).

I posted on this subject back in April. You can read it here.


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Filed under calories, Exercise, sleep, Snacking, Weight

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