Weight Loss

4 Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Equal Major Weight Gain

There is nothing worse than having to get up the next day after a night filled with tossing and turning, unable to catch those zzzz’s. It is recommended that us adults (in between the ages of 24 – 64) get 7 – 9 hours sleep a night.

The thing is, only 1 in 3 Australian adults feel as though they struggle to either get to sleep or stay asleep.

Many of us are familiar with the cranky and irritable side effects of a sleepless night. What we may be less aware of is that not being able to sleep can actually add to the size of our waistline.

Lack of Sleep Equals Major Weight Gain

4 ways sleep deprivation can make you gain weight

1. Raises Cortisol Levels

When we are sleep deprived our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) increase. The higher our cortisol levels, the greater our APPETITE. Furthermore (yes, it gets worse), when we begin to feel stressed (thanks to our increased cortisol levels), our body begins to look for ways to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that helps increase mood and relaxation. And, you wouldn’t believe what the easiest way is for our body to produce serotonin. By consuming high-fat, high-carbs foods! Yikes!

2. Storing the Sweet Stuff

So, now that we are tired, stressed and craving the naughty food (thanks to the limited sleep), our body’s ability to process this sort of food is significantly hindered.

Author of the book, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep, Michael Breus says,

“When you’re sleep deprived, the mitochondria in your cells that digest fuel start to shut down. Sugar remains in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar.”

3. Hunger Hormone

A sleepless night causes our body to release the hormone ghrelin. This hormone is responsible for signalling hunger. A sleepless night also causes our body to produce less of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for telling our tums when it is full.

So, thanks to a lack of sleep we now have more of the hungry-hormones and less of the I’m-now-full hormones. That is certainly a recipe for disaster – literally.

4. Missing Out On All That REM

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. REM occurs when we are in our deepest phase of sleep. You know when you have those weird and extremely vivid dreams? That’s our friend REM. We actually burn the most calories when we are in this phase of sleep.

The thing is, your REM sleep increases the longer you sleep, and so a lack of sleep means less time in REM. Less time in REM EQUALS less calories burned.

So there you have it. Four ways (and believe us, there are many more) why lack of sleep can inevitably make us gain weight.

Here are our tips on how to get a better night sleep to help you shift the weight:

  • Never go to bed on a full tummy. We recommend having dinner 3-4 hours before hopping into bed.
  • No mobile phones in the bedroom. Ever.
  • Dodge the caffeine 3-4 hours before going (well, trying) to sleep.
  • Never undergo vigorous exercise one hour before wanting to go to sleep.
  • Set regular patterns and try and form a healthy sleep pattern.

Find tips to help cope with sleep deprivation here.

If you’re struggling to lose weight then check out our 28 day weight loss challenge.  A simple, safe and easy way to guarantee weight loss and make you feel great.

elisha-danine
written by:

Elisha Danine

Elisha is a clinical nutritionist who specialises in nutrition for weight loss, insulin resistance, digestive and mental health. Elisha has a huge amount of experience in complimentary health, particularly in helping to work through food related issues such as diabetes and obesity, and provide assistance to combat emotional eating. She has been part of the Healthy Mummy team of experts since 2012, writing informative blog posts, contributing to our recipe books and the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge recipes. Elisha loves working for The Healthy Mummy because “I love creating family friendly recipes, knowing that women all around the country are losing weight and gaining more confidence and changing their lives for the better.”