Does Losing Sleep Mean Gaining Weight?

Lack of sleep can affect your appearance in more ways than you think. Our friends at Self tell us just how bad sleep deprivation is for our waistlines.


We've all had those mornings where thanks to a bad night's sleep, you get the dreaded, "You look really tired" (aka "You look like hell") feedback from well-meaning co-workers and friends. We've all been there. But, dark under-eye circles and energy levels aside, here's another reason for getting a full night's rest: your waistline.

Yep, sleep can affect how much weight you gain. According to sleep scientists, we are not wired for sleep deprivation, and as a result, every bodily process is affected.

"There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain," says Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago.

Granted, it's up for debate how many hours makes up the ideal full night's rest. Research shows that all THESE things are happening on days you don't get enough sleep:

  • Levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin increase, and levels of the satiety/fullness hormone called leptin decreases. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.
  • You consume about 300 more calories a day, and most of it comes from high-fat foods.
  • You consume more calories than what is needed to provide the energy to stay awake longer. If this continuously happens at night it can lead to significant weight gain.

One study showed that participants who did not get enough sleep over five days not only had a higher carb intake, but they also gained nearly 2 pounds in that time period. Clearly, getting enough zzz's is important.

Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep. According to Kenneth Wright, director of sleep and chronobiology laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder, those people who are getting enough rest reduce both their fat and carb intake.

Now that's something think about. Will you be turning lights out earlier tonight?

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