Can lack of sleep cause weight gain?

Megan Smith
 min read

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain?

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain?

According to several studies, a lack of sleep would allow our body to store fat more easily, so the quick answer is ‘yes’.

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain? Introduction

Getting enough sleep is essential for mental balance and good physical health. Sleep is the time of day when our body regenerates.

Getting enough high-quality sleep is important for good health.

According to several studies, by altering the hormonal functioning of the body, chronic lack of sleep would store fat more easily.

Related: What is sleep and why is it important?

Could you imagine that sleeping badly makes you fat?

Chronic sleep deprivation affects the general state and feeling of satiety because it alters the production of hormones that control appetite.

Indeed, when there is insufficient sleep, the stomach secretes abundantly ghrelin (hormone that stimulates the feeling of hunger).

It also reduces the amount of leptin (satiety hormone).

Stress, fatigue or daily occupations are elements that can trigger emotional intolerance and lead some people to develop bad habits.

A sedentary lifestyle, getting up at night to snack, eating in front of the TV are some of the most common.

All of these dysfunctions may lead to bulimia and the craving to constantly eat sweet or high-calorie foods.

In addition, the two natural mediators, serotonin and melatonin, are reduced and cause insomnia.

Their role is to regulate the sleep cycle, and this causes a hormonal imbalance that acts on the organic functions.

By the way, make sure sleeping badly is not due to a bed of inferior quality. For more info, see these reviews of top portable beds for adults.

Lack of sleep alters fat metabolism

In just four days, sleep deprivation of three hours per night (eight hours of sleep being ideal) significantly disrupts lipid metabolism.

For example, the risk of cardiometabolic complications increases due to lack of sleep.

One example of such complication could be a reduced sensitivity of cells, particularly adipocytes, to insulin.

The secretions are thus increasingly important as well as the storage of fats.

In one study, researchers let their subjects sleep 5 hours a night for 4 days, preceded by a high-fat meal.

During this time, postprandial (i.e., after-meal) lipemia (the level of fat in the blood) had a much faster clearance than under usual good sleep conditions.

Clearance is the time taken to return to a standard level.

This may suggest that certain hormones, including insulin, are disrupted and that fat is more easily stored.

Lack of sleep stimulates obesity

Obesity’s main cause is an imbalance between caloric intake and expenditure.

Several studies prove that a lack of sleep contributes to this imbalance.

The results show that lack of sleep is the third most important factor in weight gain after diet and exercise.

But how to explain this phenomenon? According to the researchers, it is all a question of hormonal imbalance.

At night, the body produces a hormone, leptin, which makes you feel full.

This is why we don’t wake up at night to eat.

The shorter the night, the less this hormone is secreted and the higher the level of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite.

It’s as simple as that.

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain? Yes, but when does it become a problem?

The situation is problematic.

We know that lack of sleep disrupts the body and has detrimental health effects, increasing the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

If the link between bad nights and overweight has already been demonstrated, when does it start to show up on the scale? Is a short night enough?

An impact on hormones

Lack of sleep is one of the sources of obesity in children and adults.

What’s at stake? A hormonal change.

The mechanism is simple:

  • To resist the overnight fast, the body produces leptin, the satiety hormone.
  • During the day, to keep us awake, the metabolism secretes ghrelin, the hormone that promotes hunger.
  • Reducing our sleep time disrupts these mechanisms and increases our appetite.

Disturbed nights also change behavior and dictate our food choices.

After a good night’s sleep, we go for low-calorie foods, whereas sugar and fat attract us more when we haven’t slept enough.

The longer wakefulness is also responsible for more food intake, including snacking.

By extending the time we are awake, we increase the time available for eating.

But we don’t do any physical activity because we are tired.

We then enter a vicious circle.

If you’ve tried to diet and you don’t see any change on the scale, look at your nights.

Hormonal changes have consequences on the loss of fat mass during a slimming diet.

When you don’t sleep enough, you lose more muscle than fat!

For more sleep-related facts, read our other article Did you know facts about sleep: Principles & Solutions

Two bad nights are enough

If you thought that sleeping six hours a night for a week had no effect on your body, you’re wrong!

The disturbances are visible after two bad nights.

The body is disturbed due to acute deprivation.

It’s the same for chronic deprivation.

A person who doesn’t get enough sleep for a week will have trouble regulating his or her appetite.

These effects are long term and difficult to recover from.

So the question ‘Can lack of sleep cause weight gain’ is now answered and explained.

You can never make up for a lack of sleep which is bad for your health and leads to obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

As for the scales reading, nature is obviously unfair. For some, bad nights will only be slightly noticeable on their weight.

Others will notice it more quickly and have difficulty making up for it.

How to evaluate your lack of sleep?

How do you know if you are getting enough sleep?

Easy: check your wake-up times during the week and on days off.

If there is more than a two-hour difference between the weekend and the week, there is a lack of sleep.

During the week, if you have trouble waking up in the morning or feel like sleeping in the early afternoon, you probably don’t get enough sleep.

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain? Conclusion

Can lack of sleep cause weight gain? Yes, sleep deprivation is a serious matter and can lead to body dysfunctions, including weight gain.

Sleep is an essential part of the day and must be adequate in quantity and quality to maintain good health.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More