Insomnia Can Hinder Your Weight Loss

So you already know that a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise program are keys to your weight loss plan. But are you listening to that other recommendation you’ve heard more than once in your life? Get plenty of sleep. Recent medical studies show that sleep loss can increase hunger and affect your body’s metabolism in a way that makes weight loss more difficult. So if you’re making a good effort in your nutrition and fitness plans, you still might be able to improve your success with better sleep.

How Sleep Loss Affects Weight Loss
  1. Hormone function affects the way fat cells respond to the food we eat. Cortisol is a hormone that is commonly released in response to physical or emotional stress. When we are deprived of sleep, cortisol is released at an increased level and makes us feel hungry even if we are full. As a result, people who continue to lose sleep on a regular basis will tend to experience hunger even when they have had an adequate amount of food.
  2. Sleep loss results in less deep sleep, the kind that restores our energy levels. Losing deep sleep hours decreases growth hormone levels. Growth hormone is a protein that helps regulate the body’s proportions of fat and muscle in adults. With less growth hormone, we reduce the ability to lose fat and grow muscle.
  3. With a loss of sleep, your body may not be able to metabolize carbohydrates as well, which leads to an increased storage of fats and higher levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body has trouble disposing of glucose in the liver and other tissues. It is a trigger for serious health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes.
  4. A lack of sleep goes hand in hand with a lack of energy – not a new concept, but perhaps you’ve grown used to your daily levels of energy and don’t notice that you could gain more. Not only do we accomplish less with less sleep, we also don’t burn as many calories. The body’s reaction is to hoard calories as fat, making our weight loss goals more difficult than they need to be. Sleep is starting to sound pretty important now, isn’t it?
Why Are You Losing Sleep and What Can You Do About It?

Don’t add this information about sleep and weight loss as a stress factor in your life. Take charge and examine why you are losing sleep so that you can do something about it.

Some people choose to live with fewer sleeping hours simply because they think they can stretch more hours of activity in their day. If this is you, remember that a better night’s sleep may actually increase your productivity in a shorter amount of time throughout your day because you have more energy and can think more clearly than when you are tired. For others, sleep loss is a result of already being overweight, which has brought on sleep apnea, lower back pain, or depression and anxiety. There are many management options for such problems, some of which might require medical attention. Check out the following tips first. They are simple enough for anyone to try to help themselves improve their sleep.

  • Eat a healthy diet. A good SparkPeople reference is right here.
  • Establish a regular exercise routine of 3-4 times per week, and do it well before bedtime.
  • Try pre-bedtime rituals that relax you – warm baths, light reading, listening to calming music or recorded nature sounds.
  • Create a peaceful sleep environment. Adjust the darkness to what works best for you. Make sure the temperature of the room is set to your comfort level.
  • Give yourself sleep hours instead of trying to squeeze more activity into one day. Adequate sleeping hours will increase your productivity during waking hours.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal right before bedtime. Eating high protein food close to bedtime makes your body think it should be active and therefore keeps you awake.
  • Don’t nap in the daytime if you have sleeping problems at night.
  • Don’t take in caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol from the late afternoon and beyond.
  • Don’t lie in bed agitated if you can’t sleep. After a half hour, move to a different room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
Realize that you need to listen to your body in determining how much sleep is right for you. Too much sleep can be just as unhealthy as too little sleep. Recognize that the sleep you get each night is just as important as the choices you make in eating and exercising as you achieve your weight loss goals.
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Member Comments

I’m not a good sleeper Report
This is true. Regular sleep regulates a lot of body functions Report
Thank you for this one! Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
Thanks! Great! Report
I have really bad insomnia and I have sleep apnea. I have been using my CPAP now for about 3 weeks. I see small changes. I still want to sleep all day long Report
Interesting Report
I’m like a lot of people on here, I’ve had insomnia all my life. Last night I was up until 3:00 A.M. Then I slept from 3:00 - 8:00 A.M. I hope everyone has a Super & Blessed Saturday! loulou179 Report
Good article. Report
I've suffered from insomnia all my life, even as a child. I do all the things you're supposed to do, and avoid the things that detract from sleep, but it hasn't made a difference. It's frustrating because I NEED more sleep; I'm not one of those people who functions on 4-5 hours of sleep. I know it's ageing me (MAJOR bags under my eyes) but I don't know what to do about it. Report
Good information, thank you. Report
I go to bed late by choice. Since I live alone my Sons don't feel it is safe for me to be up so late. Hopefully this article will kick in so I will quit being so foolish! Report
I haven't been able to sleep "normal" for quite a while but not sure what to change. I limit caffeine to lunch or earlier, I exercise regularly, I eat lighter meals for dinner, I take melatonin, and I have a regular schedule (frequently wake up before my 6AM daily). I seem to have the best luck getting quality sleep when I stay up as late as possible (sometimes as late as 2AM), to the point I'm exhausted instead of just sleepy. When my boyfriend stays over, I get even less sleep (he sometimes snores and I'm a very light sleeper), then I get mad because he sleeps like a log for 8-10 hours. Report
I average between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours a night which is pretty bad. But, DH cannot sleep without the TV being on and I know it keeps me awake and doesn't allow me to get into a deep sleep. So maybe a divorce would help? LOL Report
They missed a very important factor of what could be affecting your sleep. Kids! I have 2 that are sick right now and one has been having night terrors on top of it. Having a toddler start screaming and throwing a fit in the middle of the night is not conducive to a good night's sleep. Report


About The Author

Laura Bofinger
Laura Bofinger
As a freelance writer, Laura uncovers some kind of inspiration every day when she writes about health and fitness.