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Can Lack of Sleep Cause You to Gain Weight?

Fitday Editor

Lack of sleep wreaks all kinds of havoc on the body, including weight gain. To understand this correlation, you have to look closely at both the behavioral and physiological changes that are associated with sleep deprivation.

Snacking When Sleepy

One of the ways that sleep deprivation complicates the goals of a weight loss plan is through causing low energy. When you do not sleep enough, you are more likely to snack as an effort to increase your energy level. In addition, when you are sleepy and your energy is low, you may experience decreased motivation to hit the gym or to exercise at the intensity necessary to guarantee weight loss.

Eating to Relieve Boredom

Another relevant factor is that when people are not sleeping enough, that leaves extra hours of awake time. Often, out of boredom or fatigue, you might reach for a snack or crave foods that are high in fat or calories.

Sleep Research

One study looked at nine healthy overweight adults. These volunteers were asked to undergo observation for a two-week period that was repeated three months later. During the two weeks, these study subjects were asked to spend specific amounts of time in bed. One group spent 5.5 hours. The other slept for 8.5 hours each night.

The diets of these two groups were identical. They consisted of balanced nutrition and a caloric level that was intended to encourage weight loss. The result of the study was that both groups lost a similar amount of weight. However, the group that was sleep deprived lost more muscle than did the group that slept enough. The group with adequate sleep experienced a 57 percent fat loss when compared to the sleep deprived group where the fat loss made up only 26 percent of the weight lost. In another study, sleep-restricted individuals in an 11-day study gained an average of nearly 3 pounds as compared with the control group.

It appears that there is solid scientific evidence supporting the notion that not sleeping enough can lead to weight gain. Getting enough sleep is not only critical for your general well being, it is important for helping you achieve your weight loss goals. Be sure to sleep at least 7 to 8 hours each night. The goal is to feel rested when you wake up in the morning. If you experience distractions while you are trying to sleep, try to minimize them as much as possible.


Getting enough sleep will put you in a better mood. When you are feeling relaxed and happy you may be less likely to indulge in sweets or snacks. Feeling rested will also give you greater energy and motivation to follow through with your exercise regimen. When you do get enough sleep, your body will lose more fat than muscle as compared with when you are sleep deprived. Plus, getting enough sleep feels good and makes you look good too. It gives your skin a glow from much needed rest. It also enlivens your eyes and your overall demeanor.

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