Does Lack of Sleep Cause Weight Gain?

The question in front of physicians now is – can sleep or the lack of sleep cause obesity? The recent research findings say ‘yes’. They proved that lack of sleep makes you gain weight. Sleeping less can cause changes in complex metabolic pathways that control your appetite, food intake and energy expenditure.

Sleeping Less is One of the Life Style Changes

Nowadays, school children also don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep during the formative years of life is putting youth on a trajectory towards obesity and metabolic syndrome. There are lots of changes in the lifestyle of people since the past decade. Earlier, people used to go to bed when it gets dark and wake up early in the morning. A recent study found that many are sleeping for less than eight hours a night, which puts them at the risk of obesity.

Facts and Figures

Another research study also found that people who sleep six hours per night are 23 percent more likely to gain weight than those who sleep between seven and nine hours. If you sleep for five hours per night the likelihood of obesity increases to 50 percent.

Hormonal Changes are the Main Cause

It seems that the relationship between sleep and weight is not just about physical activity. But, it is about what your body misses when you are sleep deprived. Researchers are taking a closer look at two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain to stop eating, and it is released by your fat cells. Ghrelin works in the opposite sense and tells your brain to keep eating. The stomach produces it. These two hormones have a great role in helping you decide whether to finish off that super size portion or not.

Researches found that those who sleep less have lower leptin levels and higher ghrelin levels. This imbalance leads to the habit of eating more. People sleeping only five hours a day have a lower leptin level of 15% and higher ghrelin level of 15% as compared to those who sleep for eight hours. This low leptin-high ghrelin combination increases your appetite. Plus, short snoozers also have more awake time to eat.

Your brain takes the low leptin level to mean starvation and boosts your hunger and burns fewer calories. The result is that you gain weight without eating any additional food. So, sleep is not only necessary for your brain, it also affects your entire body functions.

Sleep Well and Lose Weight

Sleeping is a better option for weight loss because the body burns 60-65% of all calories while sleeping. But only smaller majority of calories are burned while you are awake. Anyway, one should also take note that there are some exceptions to this rule.

One has to understand the facts behind this obesity and lack of sleep link. You have to make the habit of getting quality sleep on a daily basis. Make this your New Year’s resolution because normally you will not get much sleep on New Year’s Eve. If you are following your diet plan properly, then focus on your sleep habits. More sleep is not only a key to weight loss, but also keeps you feel rejuvenated and lighter.

Some Foods for Getting Good Sleep are:


The hormones melatonin and serotonin are directly associated with good sleep. Melatonin sends signals to the brain to make us fall asleep. Whereas the hormone Serotonin makes us feel good and be composed. Banana also is a good source of the nutrient magnesium, which helps in the relaxation of the muscles.


It can be natural alternative for sugar. It contains less calories and tastes sweeter than sugar. Research studies on honey discovered that helps in getting good sleep. A hormone called Orexin alerts the brain. Honey is found to deactivate this hormone making us feel relaxed.

Chamomile Tea:

It is a good habit to have a cup of Chamomile tea before the sleep. It acts like a mild sedative and calms and relaxes our restless mind and tired body.

Apart from eating these foods, it is advisable to maintain a gap of 3 hours between dinner and sleep.