The Chemical Correlation Between Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain

The Chemical Correlation Between Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain

The Chemical Correlation Between Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain

The Chemical Correlation Between Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain


More and more studies are showing the negative consequences that lack of sleep has on the human body, and the problems associated with lack of sleep going far beyond just feeling fatigued. Sleep is the time for the human brain and body to regulate and recharge itself. This is the time during which certain chemicals are released (some are only released while sleeping) and others are suppressed, working to keep the body in homeostasis. Inadequate sleep leads to a chemical and hormonal imbalance which can cause a myriad of problems, including working against your efforts to lose weight. In fact, lack of sleep can actually contribute to weight gain.


The Hormonal Truth


The Journal of the American Medical Association has released a number of studies that indicate a correlation between lack of sleep and changes in metabolism, as well as changes in appetite. Lack of sleep may inhibit the production of cortisol in the body. Cortisol, which, among other things, is linked to appetite, can leave a person feeling hungry, even after they are actually full.


The studies indicate that lack of sleep can also contribute to an elevation of insulin in the bloodstream. The University of Chicago Department of Medicine recently published a study showing that lack of sleep reduces the bodies ability to full synthesize carbohydrates, inhibiting the excess storage of fat in the body.


There also seems to be a strong correlation between the amount of sleep one gets and the production of the appetite suppressing hormone leptin. Those who suffer from a regular lack of sleep tend to have lower levels of this hormone in their body – particularly in the evening. The Journal of Applied Physiology notes that the stomach peptide, ghrelin, an appetite stimulator, is produced in excess when one suffers from a recurrent lack of sleep, contributing to the tendency to overeat in the evening.


Tips for Better Sleep


Sleep doesn’t come easy for everyone, and choosing a chemical sleep aid is not always the right choice. There are personal changes that you can try before turning to a prescription or over-the-counter sleep aid that can help you to get a full night’s sleep, naturally.


1) Avoid caffeine: Though it may be pretty obvious, it is advised to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours, as these can keep you awake at night.

2) Avoid alcohol: Perhaps a bit more surprising is the advice of the Mayo Clinic to also avoid alcohol during these hours if you are dealing with sleep issues.

3) Avoid heavy meals: It is also important not to go to bed hungry, but it is also advised that you do not eat a large meal right before going to bed. Try to have your large, evening meal a couple of hours before you go to bed in order to aid proper digestion.

4) Avoid naps: If you have difficulty sleeping, the Mayo Clinic and Royal College of Psychiatrists suggest that you avoid naps, as this will reduce your ability to get to sleep at a decent time in the long-run.

5) Establish routine: It is also helpful to establish a bedtime routine, or a series of tasks that you go through each night before going to bed.

6) Sleep hygeine: Create an environment that is conducive to a good night’s sleep, such as making the room dark enough, kept at a stable, cool temperature, and avoid distractions such as television or the radio.

7) Avoid screens: Screens emit blue light which reduces the prodction of melatonin, the chemical that tells our brain that’s it time to sleep.


Many of our body’s chemical regulation systems are inherently linked to the amount of sleep we get. In addition to a host of other issues, lack of sleep can make it difficult to lose weight and can even contribute to weight gain. As a result of inadequate sleep, the body suffers from a chemical imbalance between appetite stimulating and appetite suppressing hormones. The metabolism of carbohydrates is also affected, leading to more calories stored as fat in the body. Sleep is not always easy to come by in our busy world, but utilising the tips for a better night’s sleep listed above can help you get more sleep, not only improving the effectiveness of your weight loss endeavors, but also improving your overall feelings of wellbeing.


Lost your password?