A recent study published by King’s College in London, England tells us how lack of sleep can cause weight gain.
One reason is this: when we don’t sleep enough we tend to consume more calories the following day. For example, if you’ve ever had a late night, you may notice how your eating patterns change the next day. You typically crave unhealthy foods that are higher in fat, sugar and calories.
I recently experienced this myself. For whatever reason, I didn’t have my usual 7-8 hours of sleep. As a result, I had difficulty following my healthy eating plan. Plus I was craving foods that I wouldn’t normally eat. Since I felt tired, I also lacked the energy necessary to exercise, which ultimately affected my body’s daily energy balance.
If the above study is in fact true, it makes sense why we may be sabotaging our weight loss efforts by cutting ourselves short when it comes to sufficient sleep. The study (published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition), showed that sleep-deprived people consume an additional 385 kcal per day.
A previous study of 26 adults found that those who were partially sleep deprived experienced greater activation in areas of the brain that are associated with reward. This means that a greater motivation to seek food could be the reason for a higher caloric consumption in those who are sleep deprived (as indicated by the authors in this study). Other possible explanations include a disruption of the internal body clock, affecting the body’s regulation of leptin (the ‘satiety’ hormone) and ghrelin (the ‘hunger’ hormone).
According to the Canadian Obesity Network, there are many reasons for weight gain when we are sleep deprived, but the simplest one is “the more time we spend awake, the more time we spend eating.”
More specifically, sleep loss also seems to contribute to abdominal weight gain. “Lack of sleep is a stressor, which leads to elevated cortisol — short sleepers have higher levels of cortisol at the end of the day — and a preferential deposition of fat in the abdomen. In addition, growth hormone levels fall with lack of sleep and that also contributes to visceral fat,” says Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Ottawa).
Need more sleep? Check out some of my tips to ensure you are getting enough Z’s.
- Cut out caffeine early
- Exercise at least five times per week
- Add a supplement with Melatonin before bed (I love this Sleep Spray)
- Unplug from technology before bed
- Help decrease cortisol levels by adding in Adaptogens (I love Ionix Supreme)
- Drink a herbal tea before bed
- Have a bath, meditate or read to clear your mind before bed
- Prioritize your sleep. Everything else can wait!