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Can Lack of Sleep Lead to Weight Gain?


Pamela Budhoo, Nutritionist, Health Influencer, Writer/Contributor for Effective Lifestyle

Along with nutrition and exercise, sleep is part of the balancing act to good health and wellness. Many individuals often forget this. A lack of sleep is linked to overeating. Here’s why.

The two hormones responsible for hunger cues are Ghrelin and Leptin. Reduced sleep can cause these hormones to become unbalanced. It may lead to a higher level of the hormone Ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and a lower level of the hormone Leptin, which signals satiation. Because these hormones are not regulated, hunger becomes more prominent. Due to the hormonal imbalances, you’re more likely to overeat, leading to weight gain.

Additionally, there’s the factor of the endocannabinoid system (eCB) to consider. This system regulates both appetite and energy levels. It affects the brain’s motivation and reward circuit, sparking a desire for “tasty foods”. The eCB system is most known to be stimulated by chemicals found in marijuana. It causes you to crave energy dense foods like chips, cookies and candy. When a person is sleep deprived, this system works in a similar way. Research has shown that eCB levels are higher when individuals are not getting enough sleep. They tend to consume more than someone who had a full night’s rest. Unhealthy snacks are mostly consumed between meals, suggesting that eCB’s are a driving force to indulging in pleasurable foods. When you’re fully rested and see “junk food”, you’re able to control yourself to some degree. A lack of sleep will make your cravings for certain foods stronger, making your ability to resist much more difficult. Due to this factor, trying to get enough sleep is ideal in terms of avoiding the act of overeating, especially junk food which will ultimately cause you to gain weight.

Sleep differs from person to person. Adults require anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. While many individuals are able to doze off right away, some may experience a bit of difficulty when it comes to resting. Many of the sleeping suggestions listed below are geared towards a better nights rest. They put your mind and body at ease, making it a little easier to fall asleep. Of course not all of these will work for each person in the same way. You will know you found something that works for you when you become much more calm and relaxed.

11 Tips for Better Quality Sleep

  1. Take a warm to hot bath/shower

  2. Read a book

  3. Put away all electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime

  4. Listen to ASMR videos (YouTube has many)

  5. Avoid taking naps late in the day

  6. Reduce caffeine consumption in the evening

  7. Avoid eating meals late at night

  8. Meditation/breathing exercises

  9. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea (caffeine-free)

  10. Sleep and wake up at the same time every day

  11. Listen to calming music