Does lack of sleep make you gain weight?

by | Apr 29, 2015 | Health & News, Weight Loss Programs, Women's Health & Wellness


Unfortunately, the answer is YES!  New research has shown that sleep deprivation leads to poor food choices, fatigue and weight gain.  No wonder I couldn’t lose those 10-15 pounds when I was delivering babies all those years.  I guess sleeping 4-5 hours per night wasn’t helping my waistline!

According to Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, and clinical director of the Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey, “When you have sleep deprivation and are running low on energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods.”   Cheetos, anyone?


Not only do you make poor food choices, you may also skip stopping at the gym after work and deciding to get take-out rather than cooking at home.  The results – much more sodium, saturated fat and empty calories – all leading to that darned weight gain.

The Sleep-Weight Connection

On average we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night.  For some of us, 5-6 hours are sufficient while for others, they require 8-9 hours.  Whatever your hourly night time requirement may be, we now know that lack of sleep leads to an imbalance of nightly hormones.  Dr. Michael Breus, clinical director for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Arizona, states, “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, your metabolism will not function properly.”


The two hormones that control hunger are ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is released when we need to eat.  When we are sleep-deprived we release more ghrelin – stimulating our appetite.  The hormone, leptin, tells when to stop eating.  With sleep deprivation, it’s a double-whammy – more ghrelin and less leptin – leading to increase appetite, slower metabolism and less satiety.

3 tips for better sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon or early evening.
  2. Watch what you eat before bedtime – eat a small meal and avoid fatty foods and alcohol.
  3. If you need a night-time snack, choose a piece of fruit – apple or pear, – or some almonds.

In my next blog, I’ll investigate further how other hormones, such as cortisol, cause weight gain.  Stay tuned and be sure to catch your ZZZ’s.

If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, Dr. Hoppe recommends Insomnitol or come in for consultation to discuss the best solution for you.

Keeping you healthy and wise! 


Dr Diana Hoppe OBGYN in encinitas, CA. signature- hormones, menopause, weight loss, pap smear, total women's health care