How Sleep Affects Weight Loss

February 18, 2022

How Sleep Affects Weight Loss

The journey to weight loss is a difficult one that many people find themselves attempting, but are unsuccessful over the long term. You eat a well-balanced diet and exercise daily, yet your weight loss efforts are thwarted. You wonder why.

Research suggests there is a significant connection between weight loss and sleep. But, just how does sleep affect weight loss? We’re here to answer your most pondered questions, and help you on your journey to lose weight.

How Much Sleep do I Really Need?

According to sleep specialists worldwide, the average adult, depending on their age group, should receive a minimum of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal mental and physical health.

The human brain relies on sleep to keep up with many vital functions, such as storing new memories of things that you learned throughout the day, rejuvenating your body in preparation for tomorrow, and even helping you maintain healthy body weight. Although sleep plays a crucial part in keeping us healthy, many adults sleep fewer than 7 hours each night, leaving many of them to suffer from sleep deprivation.

What is the Connection Between Sleep and Weight?

The average amount of hours a person is sleeping each night as well as the quality of sleep has steadily declined in recent years among Americans self-reporting their sleep habits. Not only have American sleepers experienced poor sleep, but there has also been an associated increase in body fat among sleep-deprived adults, leaving experts to wonder, is there a connection?

Peer-reviewed studies have linked restrictive sleep or poor sleep in sleep-deprived participants with an elevated risk of obesity, weight gain, metabolic disorders, and other chronic health conditions, making the link between sleep and weight more prevalent. Though doctors have yet to show a conclusive proven connection between the two, research shows a positive correlation between healthy sleep habits and weight loss.

Ways Sleep can Affect Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Poor sleep or a lack of sleep can leave the human brain a bit foggy — meaning it alters a person’s ability to make sound decisions. Some people report sleep deprivation leaves them feeling “drunk”, although they have not consumed an alcoholic beverage. Research suggests you are more likely to experience an increased appetite, or take in high-fat foods due to a lack of sleep.

Sleep-deprived participants in many sleep studies report experiencing a decrease in impulse self control, specifically in regards to hunger and satisfaction. As a result, many are at an increased risk of making poor food choices, such as consuming unhealthy foods or irregular portion sizes — thus increasing weight gain. Similarly, those living with chronic sleep deprivation are at risk of experiencing the inability to stimulate hunger, making it more difficult to gain weight, due to not being able to feel hunger throughout the day.

Does a Lack of Sleep Increase Appetite?

Without sufficient sleep, your body becomes sleep deprived, leaving it unable to regulate hormones such as leptin and ghrelin. Sleep deprivation causes the body to produce fewer leptin levels than are needed to regulate hunger satisfaction, which in turn leaves you to feel more hungry and experience an increased intake of food, especially unhealthy foods.


Ghrelin is a vital hormone produced by the enteroendocrine cells of the GI tract. Often referred to as the “hunger hormone”, it is responsible for telling the body when it is hungry, thus, triggering food intake. Ghrelin levels are at an all-time high just before mealtime, but are significantly decreased to a normal level after you have eaten.


Leptin is a hormone prominently made by adipose cells (fat cells) and enterocytes found in the small intestines. It plays a critical role in telling the body when it is satisfied following a meal, so that your dietary efforts are not wasted. It helps to reduce the risk of eating portion sizes too large. Sleep makes all the difference in the regulation of Leptin, as the body relies on sleep for hormone regulation.

Does a Lack of Sleep Increase Weight Gain?

Do you maintain a healthy diet of lean meats and an increased intake of protein, exercise almost daily, rarely stray from your diet, but still cannot lose weight, or simply continue to gain? Sleep-deprived people who are sleeping fewer than the minimum recommended 7 hours per night are not allowing enough downtime for the body to regulate hormones, which can result in decreased leptin levels and elevated ghrelin levels. The disruption in these growth hormones leaves a person at serious risk of an increased body mass index (BMI).

In 2010, researchers conducted a study, which was published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the link between sleep and weight gain or loss. Throughout the study, 14 participants of healthy young men and women were provided a diet with moderate caloric restriction. However, half of the subjects were allowed to sleep 8.5 hours while the other half were left with experimental sleep restriction to only 5.5 hours per night. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that those experiencing a lack of sleep, or sleep curtailment, lost 55 percent less fat than those who had enough sleep.

The Link Between Sleep Loss and Obesity

Sleep-deprived people, or those living with harmful sleep disorders, are at a greater risk of obesity, according to published medical reports. Many studies have shown a link between those who are sleeping fewer than 8 hours per night with the highest body fat, and a worsening resting metabolic rate.

Spending more time awake leaves a person at an increased risk of late-night snacking and increased hunger. When a person begins to get less sleep at night, they are at an increased risk of developing an increased appetite due to too many waking hours without sleep in between.

How Sleep Helps to Maintain Dietary Efforts

As mentioned above, sleep helps to regulate many crucial hormones and body functions, such as the ability to process glucose, achieving regular exercise, and even getting better sleep. Sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders leave a person feeling fatigued throughout the day, and making them less likely to make proper food choices, or getting some type of physical activity.

In addition, the altered hormone levels cause a dysfunction in the body’s ability to accurately trigger hunger or tell the body it is satisfied. Adequate sleep is more than just making you feel better after a busy week. It is critical in aiding many body functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Sleep Affect Your Body’s Metabolism?

A resting metabolic rate accounts for the number of calories burned while your body is at rest, and supports basic bodily functions, such as breathing, organ function, and blood circulation. Your body’s metabolism allows the food and drinks consumed to be converted into energy used to power the body throughout the day. Everything you do from breathing to physical activity relies on this energy.

As you sleep, your metabolic rate is decreased by up to 15 percent, meaning your body does not need as much energy. However, sleep deprivation alters the body’s metabolism, leaving a person to suffer from increased hunger.

How is Sleep Related to Physical Activity?

Short sleep duration as a result of sleep deprivation, or the inability to fall asleep, affects many parts of a person’s daily life. Those who receive enough sleep find it easier to conduct physical activity, such as taking a brisk walk, or hitting the gym for 30 minutes to 1 hour after work.

An altered sleep schedule resulting in insufficient sleep results in a person feeling unable to complete minuscule tasks, much less receive some type of physical activity. As a result, someone who is not getting good sleep finds themselves living with more body fat, body weight, and being unable to achieve weight loss, regardless of their diet.

How Much Physical Activity do I Need Each Week?

According to sleep specialists and medically reviewed information, a person who is getting quality sleep at night should make a goal of at least two and a half hours of moderate activity, or just above an hour of high-intensity exercise per week. Remember, the more you move, the better you will sleep.

Why am I More Hungry After a Poor Night of Sleep?

Throughout the day, your body’s metabolism turns food into fuel, and the energy is expended through various activities, allowing you to power through the day. However, energy expenditure comes to a screeching halt when it comes to sleep deprivation and excess caloric intake.

A recent clinical nutrition study reports that sleep-deprived people took in an extra 300 calories, mostly fatty acids, but felt more tired than usual. Although they had a higher than usual calorie intake, their energy expenditure did not change.

Tips to Improve Sleep While Losing Weight

Are you tired of your weight gain, and finally ready to tackle your weight loss journey? The correlation between sleep and weight loss is uncanny in that losing sleep while dieting reduces your body’s ability to lose weight, and actually encourages high-calorie foods and unhealthy eating habits. Experts recommend the following tips to improve sleep while also losing weight.

Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

Going to sleep at a certain time, and waking up the following morning at the same time allows your body to get into a healthy sleep routine. When you stray from your “normal”, your body is left to essentially play catch up with sleep, causing a significant change in energy expenditure and metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight.

Create a Sleep Oasis

Falling asleep at night can seem increasingly difficult, especially for those who sleep with the television on, or scroll through social media while lying in bed. Artificial light alters the brain’s ability to understand the difference between day and night, leaving your body less capable of falling asleep easily. Sleep specialists report sleeping in a cool, dark room aids in healthy sleep habits.

Avoid Food Before Bed

After you consume a meal, the metabolism works to break down the food into useful energy. If you eat too close to bedtime, your body is unable to burn off the excess calories, resulting in an increase in weight gain. Sleep specialists recommended that you should not eat for at least three hours before bed, to ensure metabolism has adequate time for energy expenditure.

Reduce Stress

Chronic stress has a harmful effect on the body. It has been linked to unwanted effects, such as increased acne, negative coping mechanisms, and weight gain. Keeping the amount of stress you are exposed to daily to a minimum can greatly increase your chances of quality sleep and healthy weight loss.

Look into Sleep Medicine

If you experience an increasingly difficult time falling asleep, or have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, sleep medicine may be the best option for you. There are several over-the-counter options, as well as prescription medication, designed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. If you experience significant difficulty falling asleep, it may be time to reach out to your primary care physician for a physical exam and consultation.

Love Yourself and Love Your Body

The decision to lose or gain weight is a personal decision that can only be made by you. Whether you think you are “too skinny” or “too fat”, it is important that you maintain a healthy body image, and love your body at all stages of life. Our body does so much for us day after day, the least we can do is love it back. Weight loss is often a confidence boost when we feel less than ourselves, however, this temporary fix does not always equate to better health - specifically in those with body dysmorphia or anorexia. A healthy body image leads to a reduction in stress associated with the “need” to lose weight, thus making the journey a bit easier to attain.

Let Eco Terra Help!

Have you found yourself experiencing poor sleep on your weight loss journey? Eco Terra is here to help! We understand the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight and a healthy ratio of body fat to body mass. That’s why we have put in the research, time, and dedication to create a mattress to give you a great night’s sleep.

Our Hybrid Latex Mattress and 100 percent Natural Latex mattress topper are made from sustainably sourced materials, allowing you to feel safe and comfortable night after night. Our products are made without harmful or toxic chemicals, no synthetics, and no fillers - meaning every fiber of our mattress and mattress topper is made with 100 percent natural and organic material.

Not only do we understand the direct link between sleep and weight gain, we understand that it is impossible to determine if a mattress is right for you within five minutes of sitting on it.

To ensure you have chosen the right mattress, whether it be our medium or medium-firm natural latex hybrid mattress, we offer a 90-night worry-free trial. Your mattress arrives at your home quickly with our fast, free shipping, leaving you ample time to ensure it is the right fit for you and your sleeping partner. If for some reason you are not completely comfortable with your purchase, we will give you a refund within your trial period.


If you find yourself on a journey to weight loss, it is important that you follow a healthy weight loss guide. Many helpful resources can be found from the National Institutes of Health. Not only can choosing a healthy guide help you in being more successful in losing weight, but it can also help you maintain your health and positivity throughout the journey. Remember, you are never alone in your weight loss journey - more than 70 percent of American adults are living with being overweight or obese, with many of them having a strong desire to lose a few extra pounds.

Sleep and weight loss go hand-in-hand. Without enough sleep, your body is simply unable to perform vital functions, such as insulin regulation, Leptin, and Ghrelin regulation, and sound decision making.

As noted above, there’s believed to be a direct link between insufficient sleep and excess body fat among sleep-deprived people, leaving them to feel groggy and tired the following day. It is important that you maintain the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night to ensure your body has ample downtime to rest, relax, and reset for the next day. Most importantly, see you doctor if you are struggling with sleeping or achieving weight loss, as there may be medical explanations.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 13 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.