Can Lack of Sleep Cause Weight Gain?
Updated: May 1
Are you stuck trying to figure out why you’re gaining weight — or why it’s so difficult to lose those extra pounds that just seemed to sneak up on you despite not changing your diet or exercise habits?
This is often referred to as Weight Loss Resistance - and it’s exactly how it sounds: weight that just won’t budge no matter what you do!
Here’s one surprising reason why you might be gaining weight or experiencing weight loss resistance: lack of good quality, restorative sleep.
In fact, there are actually science-backed reasons why a lack of sleep can be a strong contributing factor to not being able to maintain a healthy weight.
Why Lack of Sleep Causes Weight Gain
If you thought unsightly dark circles under the eyes were the worst outcome from cutting corners on sleep, you may want to think again.
Sleep is of the utmost importance to nearly every bodily system and losing out on it, even just a little, creates a vicious cycle in your body.
For example, where a healthy body weight may be of concern, the more sleep deprived you are, the higher your levels of stress hormone (cortisol) will be, which tends to increase your appetite.
Then, once the appetite is increased, a lack of sleep also thwarts your body’s natural ability to process sugar and carbohydrates - which of course is what you’re craving after a crappy night’s sleep!
Additionally, when you’re overtired, the mitochondria (little cellular factories that turn food and oxygen into energy = metabolism centers) start to shut down. This causes glucose to stay in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar levels.
Insulin is a hormone whose job it is to signal the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to be used for energy. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that skimping on sleep can cause fat cells to become less insulin-sensitive by up to 30% - meaning they loose their ability to use insulin properly.
Yet another reason you might pack on pounds when you’re lacking in sleep is because your body goes into survival mode - much like when we deprive our bodies of too little energy & calories. Therefore, survival mode = extra fat storage. (The body thinks it’s better to be fat than dead!)
And all of that isn’t even the worst of it!
Research says that just 30 minutes of lost sleep per day could make you more likely to gain.
Sleep could arguably be the most important thing a person can do if they’re ready to start a new health optimization plan - and the first step is to make sleep a priority.
Sleeping isn’t just a time to rest -- you’re nourishing your body just as you are when you’re eating healthy foods. It may require some behavioural and mindset shifts on your part, but your body (and mind) will thank you.
Why not try a cup of warm, comforting tea right before bed - every little bit helps, right?
Here’s an easy DIY Sleepy time Herbal Tea Blend recipe you can make in batches.
DIY Sleepy-time Herbal Tea Blend
3 parts dried chamomile
2 parts each: dried peppermint and dried lemon balm
1 part each: dried lavender and dried passionflower
1/4 part valerian root (it is important to only add this much valerian root)
Fresh, filtered water
While heating water on the stove or in an electric kettle (up to 160 degrees F is optimal for herbal tea), lightly mix herbs together in a bowl.
Place up to 1 Tb of herbal tea mixture into a tea infuser ball.
Place infuser into your fave mug, and fill it with hot, but not boiled water.
Let your tea steep for up to 5 minutes (but at least 2 mins) before removing the infuser ball.
Save any extra dry tea blend in an airtight container, and store it in a cool, dark, dry place. Will keep fresh for several weeks.
Enjoy your cup of warm DIY Sleepy time Tea, and get more quality zzz’s!