December 2019

Catching Z’s – How Sleep Can Help You With Weight Loss

Sleep is categorized as a physiological behavior that occurs in all animal species and studies suggest that we spend about a third of our lives asleep.[1] Sleep is defined as “a state where awareness to external stimuli is reduced” and can be divided into two types: REM or Rapid Eye Movement and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep.[2]

Although the biological purpose of sleep remains largely a mystery, studies have implied that sleep as essential as food and water for survival – a lack of sleep affects your response time, concentration, and your ability to form and maintain pathways in your brain that allow you to learn and form new memories.[3] Continued lack of sleep can eventually lead to death.



So how can maintaining a regular sleep routine help with weight loss? With obesity fast becoming a global epidemic, losing weight and maintaining that weight loss has crept its way onto many people’s to-do list but as with many things, it’s easier said than done. However, aside from dieting, exercising or resorting to plastic surgery, one can lose weight simply by listening to their body and getting at least seven hours of sleep a night.

There are numerous studies showing how poor sleep is linked to increased BMI and weight gain and for those who get less than the recommended seven hours, there have been reports of weight changes – one review found that shorter sleep resulted in the likelihood of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults.[4] Another study, which spanned sixteen years, followed 60,000 non-obese nurses and when the study concluded, results showed that the nurses who slept five or less hours were 15% more likely to become obese than those who got at least seven hours of sleep a night.[5]

When an individual is sleep deprived, studies show that they tend to gain an appetite and this is due to the impact sleep has on the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin.[6] Ghrelin is a hormone that the body produces to let you know that you are hungry while Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells that tells you that you are full.[7] When an individual does not get proper amounts of sleep, the body makes more ghrelin and less leptin, resulting in you feeling hungrier and more likely to hunt for that midnight snack.[8]



Lastly, when an individual is sleep deprived, it reduces the motivation to indulge in physical activity and exercise because they tend to tire faster and earlier during physical exertion.[9] A study conducted on fifteen men suggested that when the participants were running on a lack of sleep, the amount and intensity of their physical activity decreased and they were less motivated to continue.[10] On the other hand, another study conducted on college basketball players who were asked to spend an average of ten hours of sleep a night for five to seven weeks showed that the extra rest time resulted in the players becoming faster with more accurate and improved reaction times.[11]

In conclusion, having a regular sleep routine and getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night can help those looking to lose weight as well as those trying to maintain a certain weight. Maintaining regular sleep patterns helps to reduce midnight cravings, lowers an individual’s chance of become obese, and helps motivate them to partake in physical activity and exercise.



[1] Dr., Ananya Mandal, MD., reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, ‘What Is Sleep?’, in News Medical Life Sciences, last updated February 27th, 2019, viewed on September 12th, 2019,

[2] ibid

[3] ‘Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep’, in National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, last modified August 13th, 2019, viewed on September 12th, 2019,

[4] Pullen, Caroline, MS, RD, ‘7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight’, in Healthline, published June 6th, 2017, viewed on September 12th, 2019,

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] bid

[9] Pullen, Caroline, MS, RD, ‘7 Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight’, in Healthline, published June 6th, 2017, viewed on September 12th, 2019,

[10] ibid

[11] ibid