The Surprising Connection Between Sleeping Habits and Weight Gain

The Surprising Connection Between Sleeping Habits and Weight Gain

As far as sleep hours go, the more the merrier

Sleep is one of the most crucial factors in weight management. Mounting evidence continues to show how poor sleep causes us to increase weight. 

The consensus among researchers is striking: if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s difficult to keep your weight in check.

Worse if you’re sleeping late and little, you’re more likely to put on weight.

Let’s take a closer look at the connection between sleep and weight gain.


Does the lack of sleep affect hormones?

When you’re sleep-deprived, this affects the hormones that control appetite and hunger. The hormones are leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin reduces our appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger feelings. If you’re not getting enough sleep, both hormones are triggered.

The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study analyzed data from 1,024 volunteers beginning in 1989 and continued every four years.

Researchers throughout the study investigated the sleep habits and blood samples of participants.

The researchers published new findings that show the connection between sleeping less and the hormones leptin and ghrelin.

According to the study, sleeping less than five hours each night results in 16 percent less leptin and nearly 15 percent more ghrelin than those who had more hours of sleep.

Related: Good Sleeping Habits to Help You Sleep Better at Night

Does sleeping a few hours affect the appetite?

But that’s not all. Sleep deprivation can also affect the type of food you’re interested in.

More specifically, lack of sleep will cause your brain to crave foods that have too much sugar and lack any nutritional value.

One study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of four dozen healthy adults.


The first scan happened before a well-rested night. The second can happened when they had a sleepless night.

The results showed that sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the part that helps us to make complex decisions. 

The findings also showed heightened brain activity in the deeper part of the reward center of the brain.

It is not surprising that sleep-deprived participants preferred unhealthy snacks and junk foods.

study of 12 men found that when participants were allowed only four hours of sleep, they ate an average of 559 more calories the following day, compared to when they were allowed eight hours

Does sleeping fewer hours cause weight gain?

One study investigated the relationship between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. The researchers observed 60,000 non-obese nurses over 16 years.

The findings show that the nurses who slept five hours or less each night were 15 percent more likely to be obese than those who had at least seven hours of sleep.

Part of the reason is that you eat more calories begins of impaired activity in the part of the brain that helps you make the right choices.

Another study reported that people ate on average 385 extra calories if they were sleep-deprived the night before. 

Studies show that children who sleep fewer hours have an 89 percent chance of becoming obese.


And adults who sleep fewer hours have a 55 percent likelihood of becoming obese. And don’t worry about sleeping too much, your body most probably needs it.

Does sleeping late cause weight gain?

There’s evidence to suggest that sleeping late can cause weight gain. One study enrolled 51 participants who were grouped into two.

One group was the late sleepers and had 28 participants. The other group was the normal sleepers with 23 people. 

Researchers followed the sleep behaviors for a week through their food diaries and sleep data from a wrist actigraph. 

The group who slept late went to bed around 3:45 am and woke up around 10:45 on average. They also ate breakfast at noon, lunch at 2:30 pm, dinner at 8:15 pm, and the last meal at 10:00 pm. 

However, the group that slept normally had a different routine. They slept by 12:30 am and woke up by 8:00 am on average.

Their times for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the last meal were 9:00 am, 1:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:30 pm respectively


The researchers found that those who ate after 8:00 pm were more likely to have a higher BMI, even after controlling for sleep timing and duration.


Sleep is an important factor in weight gain. Make the effort to get a good night’s sleep by making little lifestyle changes.

(Related: How Much Weight Can You Lose in 30 Days? and 10 Weight Loss Rules if You Want to Lose Weight).

If you’re the type that has trouble sleeping, consider listening to music while sleeping or using white noise to help you fall asleep and stay rested.