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  • Writer's pictureNutripanda

Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain

Lack of sleep and weight gain are highly linked together. Have you ever noticed that after a sleepless night you feel hungrier and crave certain foods more?

lack of sleep and weight gain cat Edinburgh

Sleep is an essential part of life and contributes largely to our mental and physical health performance. Although it is a state of inactivity, it is physiologically a very important period, as it is when activities such as tissue repair, memory consolidation and somatic growth take place. The need for sleep varies between individuals. On average, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Habitual sleep time of 6hrs or less is referred to as short sleep.

Various studies suggest that short sleep is associated with increased hunger and appetite, which often leads to weight gain. This occurs due to hormonal changes and changes in energy expenditure. The concentration of several hormones varies over the 24 hours of the day and is being regulated by activity time and sleep. There is the centre in the hypothalamus that regulates the circadian clock, which has a period of 24 hours. Light is the most important factor influencing its regulation, but this rhythm might be also affected by food availability, social and interpersonal interactions (Ref 1).


Sleep restriction is associated with reduced cognitive control and with activities in cortical brain regions that lead to the choice of foods that are most conducive to weight gain like fat and carbohydrates, especially those with a higher glycaemic index. In addition, people with short sleep durations have more wakeful time, during which energy intake may be increased.


Increased hunger is caused by higher levels of endocannabinoids and ghrelin. Ghrelin controls the short-term of hunger as its circulating levels increase before and decrease after each meal. Indeed, some studies indicate that ghrelin levels can increase by up to 14% because of short sleep (Ref 2). On the other hand, another hormone, leptin which signals energy sufficiency and satiety to the brain, is decreased by acute sleep deprivation and chronic partial sleep deprivation (Ref 3).


If you would like help with your lack of sleep and weight gain, please book a free pre-consultation with us.

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