Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size
A
A
A

Sleep More, Weigh Less: the link Between Sleep and Weight Loss

By
WebMD Feature

If you've been skipping out on snooze time to log more hours at the gym, you could be missing out on the easiest weight loss strategy ever -- sleep. Here's how changing your sleep habits can help you lose weight.

When Losing Sleep Leads to Gaining Weight

"There are over two dozen studies that suggest that people who sleep less tend to weigh more," says Sanjay Patel, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio. One such study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,examined approximately 1,000 people, and found a link between weight and time spent in bed. On average, people who were overweight slept 16 minutes less per day than normal weight people -- a small, but significant difference. Recent research led by Patel followed 68,183 women, all part of the Nurses' Health Study, for 16 years. The results: Those who slept 5 hours or less a night were nearly a third more likely to gain 30 pounds or more than women who slept 7 hours per night.

There are several different ways losing sleep can thwart your weight loss efforts. Research from the University of Chicago suggests that sleep deprivation may lead to a change in how our bodies regulate appetite, leading us to crave more food. "You may start not only eating more, but eating unhealthy foods -- those high in fat and carbohydrates," says Patel. "Another possibility is that because people who are sleep-deprived feel more fatigued, they exercise less. Sleep deprivation can also change your basal metabolic rate, slowing down how many calories you burn just doing basic life-sustaining activities, like breathing and maintaining body temperature."

Sleep and weight loss: 12 Sleep Secrets That Can Help You Lose Weight

Don't skimp on hours. Most people need 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night, but the best way to tell if you're getting enough sleep is to see how you feel during the day, says Patel. Are you tired or sleepy in the afternoon or evening? And in the morning, are you ready to go, or does your body crave another hour in bed? Constant napping is a clear sign of sleep deprivation, he says. Once you've determined the hours you need, make sleep a priority by counting back from the time you get up in the morning to find out when to hit the sack, says Gerard T. Lombardo, MD, director of the Sleep Center at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, and co-author of Sleep to Save Your Life: The Complete Guide to Living Longer and Healthier Through Restorative Sleep.

Explore medical causes. The most common reason people feel sleepy is that they're not getting enough sleep, Patel tells WebMD, but there could be a medical cause as well. There are over 75 different disorders that can disrupt sleep, says Lawrence J. Epstein, MD, instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, regional medical director for the Harvard-affiliated Sleep HealthCenters, and co-author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep. The most common disorders are sleep apnea, a sleep and breathing problem; restless legs syndrome, where pain and discomfort disrupt sleep; and insomnia, which can include trouble getting to sleep initially, as well as waking up and having trouble getting back to sleep. Other potential sleep-disrupters include chronic pain from conditions like arthritis, and disorders that make it hard to breathe lying down, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and heart failure. Talk to your physician if you suspect your fatigue has a medical cause.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
feet on scale
Blog
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
pantry
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens