Are poor sleeping habits sabotaging your weight loss efforts

A good night’s sleep is paramount in the maintenance of good health. Sleep is essential in keeping your brain working at an optimal level. Studies prove that a good night’s sleep improves learning and retaining of information as well as helping our body as a whole to rejuvenate and replenish itself.  Unfortunately millions of people do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your life in many detrimental ways and make you more prone to developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart problems. Studies have shown that sleep deficiency can also manifest itself as depression and anxiety. 


Obesity can be triggered and exacerbated by an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that when people don’t get enough sleep they develop increased levels of the hunger hormone called ‘ghrelin’ and alternatively decreased levels of the satiety/fullness hormone called ‘leptin’ the consequences of which can lead to overeating and unwanted weight gain. If you want to lose weight, it is paramount to get enough sleep. ‘There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, resulting in weight gain.’ says Eva Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health at the  Centre at the University of Chicago. Van Cauter is considered an expert in the field considering she has spent 15 years studying the topic. Some of the ways in which bad sleeping habits can seriously disrupt your best efforts to lose weight is that when we are tired we tend to eat more than what we need to counteract the energy loss of staying awake longer at night when we should be sleeping. Subjects that have been studied have been recorded as eating around 300 calories more a day than when they are well rested. The double weight gain whammy in this statistic is that most of the extra calories came from high fat food with the study participants seeking energy through the source of calorie laden and mostly unhealthy foods. When you are tired you are running on a low battery and so you automatically go for the comfort foods to get you through the day.

This cycle of weight gain continues and generally accelerates the tireder the person becomes. More and more food is required to keep up the stamina to complete daily tasks and maintain a semblance of mental concentration culminating in the unwanted side effect of excess weight gain. 


In general a healthy adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. In saying this 

sleep requirements can vary slightly in individuals. The quality of the sleep as well as the length also plays a role in its benefit. There are some people who might get 7.5 hours of sleep that is not considered sufficient because they are suffering from pain or an underlying health disorder so this has the same effect as if they got less sleep. However for people that are trying to lose weight and not suffering from a major condition that hinders their ability to rest there are a few important actions they can take to improve their sleep quality which in turn will help them to lose weight and keep it off. 

Avoid or cut out altogether caffeinated beverages. If you must drink coffee, do not consume it after 2pm in the day to give the energy kicking components of the caffeine time to digest and move out of your body well before bedtime. Don’t exercise for a few hours before going to bed. Exercise is an extremely important component of any weight loss plan but it generally perks us up and gives us energy which is what we need to avoid to attain a good night’s sleep. If you feel the need to do some form of movement later in the evening stick to stretching or light yoga and save any aerobic forms of movement for earlier in the day. Be mindful of what you eat and drink before you go to bed. Alcohol can seem to initially relax you and help you to get to sleep however it has a notorious reputation for waking you up a few hours later and in many cases leading to a fitful remainder of the nights sleep or worse lying awake and regretting that glass of red wine. Heavy laden calorie foods are also not recommended before slumber and of course are not part of an effective weight loss plan. The best bet is to not consume anything a few hours before bed. A full stomach of food that still needs to be properly digested does not go hand in hand with a restful night’s sleep. Try a warm herbal tea or hot milk before bed if necessary or a large glass of water. Make sure the temperature in your room is not too hot or cold and that the lighting is dark enough. Implement these steps consistently and your sleep should improve to the point that you do not feel the need or require to overeat in the day to compensate for an awful night’s sleep. 


Losing weight and maintaining a healthy, fit figure takes determination and the implementation of many factors including a healthy eating plan, regular exercise and positive thinking. Improving your sleeping habits will not just make you a healthier version of yourself but also help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Leave a Comment