Does Sleep Affect Your Weight?

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I’ve invited my nutritional guru Heather back to guest blog again this week.  She’s going to be writing a series on  something important to all travelers… sleep!  Check back in the evenings this week for more from her on this critical topic!

Do you struggle falling asleep at night?

Do you wake up tired every morning?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night have trouble falling back asleep?

Do you get a surge of energy around the time you should be winding down for bed?

Sleeping when “on the go” can be a challenge for a variety of reasons. When you aren’t in your own bed, aren’t eating your own food and not on the same schedule your body can really be sent into a tailspin!

Anyone around here know what I am talking about?

(**sees every hand raised**)

So many people struggle with these problems so trust me, you are not alone! When you are sleep deprived, weight gain, sugar cravings, confusion, and slow metabolism (to name a few) may occur.

Does sleep affect your weight?

YES! And there are TONS of studies that demonstrate the connection between sleep and weight.


This is some of the research I have found:
– People who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a notably higher BMI than those who get more sleep (despite the fact that the overweight participants were more physically active and burned more calories…yikes!)
– Just 2 nights of sleep depravity can cause an increase in appetite (so yes, that means you cannot “catch up” on the weekends)
– People who log less than 8 hours of sleep a night are hungrier (and heavier) in general

But Why?

– Sleeping less produces less leptin hormone (the hormone that makes you feel full)
– Less sleep= higher production of cortisol (stress hormone which increases appetite)
– Loss of sleep interferes with carbohydrate metabolism which could lead to blood sugar swings and insulin resistance
– Less sleep= less natural growth hormone production; natural growth hormone directly controls the distribution of fat and muscle throughout the body (so that means less sleep = more fat, less muscle)

But I Can’t Fall Asleep…

– Relax and learn to rest your mind: spend the last 1-2 hours before bed in a restful, peaceful way

– Check out this article for a list of iPhone apps you can use for mindfulness and meditation or maybe invest in a Relaxation Sound Machine

– Eat well, sleep well: eating a diet rich in nourishing foods will help you sleep better; starving yourself will trigger the production of adrenaline and cortisol (two hormones that keep you awake)

  • Healthy Fats– such as Coconut Oil, organic and pasture raised meats, eggs, avocado and butter will provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones.
  • Antioxidants– Essential for hormone production as well as removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Focus on vegetables, high nutrient fruits, and herbal or green teas (green tea early in the day only). The more colorful, the better!
  • High Protein Dinner:  Your evening meal should include proteins, vegetables and healthy fats. Eating enough protein at this meal will help prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle. In the evening focus on higher protein

– Turn off the lights: the body needs darkness to create melatonin a neurotransmitter that helps you fall asleep. Try to shut off electronics 2 hours before bedtime. Sound unrealistic?

– If you are working late, consider these glasses which will decrease the harsh effects of bright blue lights on your eyes; Bright lights late at night disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm.

– Supplement: Epsom Salt baths or Magnesium flakes, Natural Calm and Lavender, Cedarwood, Orange and Peace and Calming essential oils can aid in helping you fall asleep.

So if you dozing off and not paying attention to the post I can sum it up for you:

Lack of sleep= Increased stress on the body= weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances, lowered immune function.


Heather Heefner MS, RD, LD, CLT is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who blogs at and Heather is passionate about helping people establish a balanced lifestyle by leading by example and is committed to spreading the truth about food to help people live life to the fullest. Heather believes that nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated…but with a little practice it becomes habit! Visit her websites for more information about her services. 


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