Link between sleep and weight loss

Link Between Sleep & Weight Loss

There is growing evidence from the scientific community that points a finger at inadequate sleep as a new risk factor for the development of obesity, diabetes and its other complications.

For both mind and body, sleep is a restorative process and important to the modulation of neuroendocrine functions. Lack of sleep has been shown to affect metabolism and the endocrine system in regulating glucose tolerance and appetite-regulating hormones.

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, cutting back on the number of hours of sleep was shown to reduce the benefits of dieting. In the study, dieters were placed on a calorie-restricted diet without exercise and were studied twice. The first time for 14 days while getting adequate amounts of sleep (8.5 hours) and a second time, for another 14 days with less hours sleep (5.5 hours). Dieters lost the same amount of weight when they had less sleep and when they had adequate sleep. The difference is that when they had adequate sleep, more than half of their weight loss (55%) was fat compared to only one-fourth when they had less sleep. The dieters who had less sleep also felt hungrier. The reason for this is that when sleep is restricted, the body produces a hormone called ghrelin that triggers hunger and reduces caloric burning.

Study Director and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, Plamen Penev, said in an interview with UChicago News that, "If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels”. He added, "For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects."

What is “Metabolic Grogginess”?

When you go a few days without proper sleep, your mind and body start to suffer. You lose focus, become irritable, confused, and exhausted. It turns out, this goes down to the cellular level – to your fat cells specifically.

Metabolic grogginess was a term coined by researchers at the University of Chicago. They examined what happened to the body’s insulin levels after 4 days of sleep deprivation. Researchers found out that insulin sensitivity decreased more than 30% after 4 days of inadequate sleep. The problem with this is that it hampers your fat cells from removing fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream. In turn these lipids linger in the blood and pump more insulin. The excess insulin then leads to excess fat in places like the liver, further leading to diseases like diabetes.

Sleep & Weight Loss Go Hand In Hand

As new evidence surfaces making the connection between sleep and weight loss much clearer, it’s no longer wise to ignore the importance of a good night’s rest - not just on weight loss, but to our overall good health. While it varies from person to person, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily. It also matters the quality of sleep. So be sure to get enough sleep starting tonight to maximize the benefits you get from your weight loss efforts.


“Sleep Loss Limits Fat Loss, Study Finds.” UChicago News, The University of Chicago, 17 May 2016
“Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care” U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2011
“Why Sleep Is More Important Than We Ever Thought.” Shape Magazine, 28 Nov. 2017
“Sleep Needs: What to Do If You’Re Not Getting Enough Sleep” Help Guide