ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Not Enough Sleep + Hormone Fluctuation = Weight Gain

Updated on July 19, 2017

We all know the keys to weight loss - a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. But, what most people don't know is that you can lose weight while you sleep. How's that possible? Recent medical studies have found that sleep regulates hormonal activity tied to...of all things...appetite!


Researchers have found two hormones in particular that influence our appetite - leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells our brain when we're full - it's the brakes for our appetite. Ghrelin stimulates our appetite and tells us when to eat - it's the accelerator. Together, they work like a "check and balance" system.

Lack of adequate sleep can increase hunger and affect the body's metabolism in a way that makes weight loss more difficult. Ghrelin levels rise and stimulate your appetite. Leptin levels decrease leading you to feel unsatisfied after you eat. Bottom line: not enough sleep sets the stage for overeating and weight gain.

Our hormones have a 24-hour rhythm. The quantity AND quality of sleep help regulate that rhythm. Seven to nine hours is optimal, depending on an individual's quantitative need. Anything less than seven hours can result in higher body fat, lower metabolism, increased risk of diabetes, increased blood pressure, and risk of heart disease.


When we deprive ourselves of sleep, the release of another hormone increases - cortisol. Cortisol is a 'stress' hormone (think 'flight or fight'). When released in excess, it can make us feel hungry even when we are full. Its function affects the way fat cells respond to the food we eat. Higher cortisol levels can lead to excess fat accumulation.

To make matters worse, the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates decreases with a sustained loss of sleep. This leads to higher fat storage and increased levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance. This can trigger serious health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and Type II diabetes.

Those who sleep less than seven hours often weigh more. In a 16-year study, women who slept five hours per night were 32% more likely to experience weight gain (33 lbs. more) and 15% more likely to become obese. And, too much sleep can be just as unhealthy. It, too, can cause weight gain.

Obesity can also be linked to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea may stop breathing for up to a minute countless times during the night while sleeping. This disruption in breathing prevents necessary deep sleep.

In addition to the physical effects of sleep loss, people experiencing sleep deprivation may have a hard time finding the energy to exercise or even prepare healthy meals. One can become so used to a certain daily level of energy and not even realize more energy is possible by consistently getting a good night's rest.

For those of us who operate with fewer hours of sleep in order to pack more hours of activity into a day, consider another possibility. A better night's sleep may actually increase your productivity within a shorter amount of time. Bottom line: optimal sleep means more energy which leads to increased productivity!


  • eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • regular exercise routine (not prior to bed)
  • avoid caffeine after 2pm
  • avoid alcohol
  • avoid naps
  • don't go to bed hungry (only lean protein/vegetables after 7pm)
  • pre-bedtime ritual (warm bath, light reading, calm music, etc.)
  • comfortable sleep environment (no TV, dark, temperature, etc.)
  • regular sleep pattern (sleep/wake the same time every day)

It's important to listen to your body in determining how much sleep is right for you. Check with your doctor if you think you have a sleep disorder. Recognize that the quantity AND quality of sleep you get each night is just as important as the food and exercise choices you make along the way to achieving your optimal weight.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jenny j robert profile image

      jenny j robert 

      4 years ago

      Well! I tried to learn about the two hormones named as leptin and ghrelin but the information was simply complicated and I gave up. But you presented it nicely.

      I will like to add one thing. One should not go to bed hungry but one should not go to bed immediately after dinner. Go to sleep one hour after the dinner.

      Thanks for sharing!

      jenny j robert!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)