Does Lack of Sleep Cause Weight Gain

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 31, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Lack of sleep affect leptin and ghrelin, hormones related to fat.
  • Overeating may lead to unutilised calories and fat accumulation.
  • Lack of sleep, a precursor of stress, can add kilos to your weight.
  • Sleep of 7 to 8 hours is advised to maintain good health.

Sleep-deprivation or disruption in sleep can have a strong impact on your metabolic rates, your general appetite and the way your energy is being spent. All of these have a significant role to play in weight regulation, but, how does lack of sleep cause weight gain, after-all?

sleep weight gainStudies have established strong correlation between your daily sleep routine and the trend of gaining weight. Therefore, does lack of sleep cause weight gain? Well, reportedly, yes. Apart from the fact that a restful nocturnal sleep of 7 to 8 hours is always advised for maintaining good health and keeping cardiac problems at bay, it also helps in maintaining a healthy weight.


Hormonal relation

The primary correlation between sleep deprivation and weight gain is on account of hormonal imbalances created in body. Our appetite is primarily governed by two hormones: Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells of the body. It tells our brain to stop eating on attaining satiety. Ghrelin is a hormone produced by the stomach and instructs the body to continue eating. For people, who sleep for less than five hours a day, there is a 15% fall in the production of Leptin and a 15% rise in the production of Ghrelin. Therefore, people, who are sleep deprived, are more likely to continue eating throughout the day that those, who have enough sleep. Overeating will subsequently, lead to unutilised calories accumulating as body fat.


Effect on regular activities

Studies reveal that almost 60 to 65% of the total calories burnt during the course of the day get burnt while sleeping. The remaining 30 to 35% get burnt during other regular activities when you are awake. Therefore, if you get less sleep, your body is likely to burn fewer calories compared with those getting enough of sleep. It will ultimately result in weight gain over a period of time.



Lack of enough sleep can also be a precursor to chronic build up of stress. When you sleep less, your mind rests less and continues to remain worked up all the time. This leads to stressful situations for your system thereby, triggering the release of stress hormones. These stress hormones are known to be responsible for slowing down the pace of metabolism in the body thereby, leading to weight gain.


Sleep deprivation can not only lead to weight gain but also contribute to serious disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular complications and so on. If you are suffering from sleep apnea, which is a chronic condition related to sleep deprivation, it’s time to get medical help.




Read more articles on Weight Gain.



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