Is the Lack of Sleep Making You Fat?

If you have been eating the same amount of food and exercising regularly but not losing the weight, there might be several reasons – you might be hitting an exercise plateau, have a medical condition or…you may not be sleeping well.

We all know how important sleep is and sleep depravation can have serious issues but if you’re not sleeping well, it can also mess up with the hormones that help regulate weight. Here are the three hormones that play a role and how your lack of sleep may be affecting your weight.


Leptin is produced by fat cells and signals the brain how much fat is in the body. When leptin levels are low, you tend to feel hungry and when leptin levels are high, you tend to feel full. But of course, things aren’t that simple. Leptin is made when one’s asleep and research has shown that both acute and chronic sleep deprivation decreases leptin levels – making people with such sleep issues hungrier and eating more than needed.

Moreover, when one starts developing obesity, the brain becomes more resistant to leptin levels. This means that you may have high levels of leptin, but the brain isn’t registering as such and therefore, you tend to eat more calories than needed. Continue your exercise, especially strength training, as it appears to be more efficient at reducing leptin levels, according to a recent study on overweight and obese middle-aged adults.


Also known as the hunger hormone, ghrelin is produced by the stomach and is highest when your stomach is empty and decreases when you eat. This helps get your stomach ready to process food and of course, get you to start finding food. It is also known that stress will increase ghrelin levels and that’s where stress-eating occurs.

The combination of stress and increased ghrelin can be especially hard in the evenings, according to a small recent study. That may result in overeating in the evenings, particularly if one is prone to binge eating. Besides managing stress, making sleep a priority is also key as sleep deprivation can also increase ghrelin levels.


Most of us have heard about this stress hormone but cortisol also promotes insulin secretion which increases our appetite and store fats on our bodies, particularly around our waists, which is not good for health. Again, you’ll need to learn how to manage stress either through exercise, practising mindfulness or just taking a short break when you find yourself reaching a mental stage. Stress also affects the quality of your sleep and the whole vicious cycle will continue.

Get some sleep

As you can tell, wellness is holistic and if you want to improve your energy levels and lose that weight, sleep is also important! Get some tips on how to improve your sleep while continuing your good eating as well as exercise habits!


International Journal of Endocrinology
International Journal of Obesity
My Fitness Pal Blog

Photo credits: Pixabay


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