Sleep Loss and Weight Gain: Understanding the Link

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Feb 02, 2024

It’s no secret that exercise and diet are crucial for optimal health and wellness. However, effective weight loss and management is far more complicated than the popular concept of “eating less and moving more.”

In reality, numerous factors come into play when trying to lose weight, including genetics, body type, and health conditions. And that’s only the beginning. Research shows that hormones and sleep are significant components as well.

Our Comprehensive Primary Care team understands the complexity behind weight loss and chronic diseases like obesity. 

Whether you’ve noticed your weight slowly creeping up or you’ve had extra pounds to lose for years, here’s why your sleep could be linked.

The importance of sleep

How often do you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night? If you’re like 35% of American adults, it probably doesn’t happen much. Unfortunately, skimping on sleep has direct links to weight gain and higher body mass indexes (BMIs).

People often associate a poor night’s sleep with daytime fatigue and brain fog. However, sleeping less than seven hours a night also increases your obesity risk by 41%. It’s also more likely to lead to a larger waistline — an issue associated with more abdominal fat.

Sleep may feel like wasted “downtime.” But several important things happen during these restorative hours. 

First, toxins get removed from the brain twice as quickly while you sleep. On top of that, everything from your blood vessels to the immune system goes through a crucial repair process.

When adults don’t get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, these restorative processes get disturbed. If this becomes an ongoing problem, sleep deprivation sets in, and health complications occur, including weight gain.

And, contrary to popular opinion, you can’t “catch up” on lost sleep over the weekend; the deficit simply grows. Instead, you need consistent sleep to keep your system humming in peak condition.

Sleep loss and weight gain

Sleep deficiency can cause numerous waistline problems because it affects your hormones.

Your body produces hormones multiple times throughout the day to help you function. For instance, in the morning, you often experience a surge of e cortisol to help you wake up. And you manufacture many other hormones while you sleep.

Studies show that lack of sleep impacts the hormones you need to regulate your appetite and feelings of fullness. It also interferes with your ability to metabolize food. 

More simply put? Sleep loss can cause you to eat more, especially high-caloric sweet, salty, and fatty foods. It can also decrease your motivation to exercise. 

Sleep deprivation can also cause higher-than-normal cortisol levels. A little bit of this stress-related hormone does wonders for helping you avoid harm or danger, but when you consistently have too much of it, it can cause a variety of problems, including weight gain, especially in the face, upper back, and midsection. 

And it only takes one bad night of sleep to cause a 21% increase in cortisol levels. That’s bad news for your waistline.

Restoring sleep for weight loss

Fortunately, you can often restore balance in your body by making sleep a higher priority.

To start, our team recommends creating a sleep schedule and sticking to it, including weekends. Then, keep track of those Zzzs in a log to see how your sleep measures up and if you notice changes in your diet, activity levels, and weight.

Once you understand your overall sleep habits, it’s time to take action, especially if you consistently fall short, no matter how hard you try.

Sleep disorders are common problems, and they also have direct links to your waistline. These conditions can vary from insomnia — difficulty falling or staying asleep — to sleep apnea. 

All sleep disorders can put your health at risk. However, sleep apnea is especially dangerous. This condition occurs when you have reduced or stopped airflow while sleeping, causing you to wake up repeatedly.

Our team can help identify potential sleep disorders to ensure you get the quality rest you need for optimal health and wellness — and weight loss.

Is your sleep loss related to your weight gain? The Comprehensive Primary Care team can help. Contact us today to learn more about our personalized health services in Lawrenceville or Suwanee, Georgia.