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The Link Between Insomnia and Weight Gain



The lack of sleep can result in weight gain

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is a foe to dieters and those who are serious about losing weight. If you think that skipping long hours of sleep at night is good for you, think again. Insomnia is linked to various health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and other psychological disturbances, but it is more closely associated with obesity and weight gain. If you have an insomnia and been trying your best to spend more time at the gym to get physically fit to lose weight, or you are very serious about dieting to lose the extra pound, insomnia can get in the way of attaining your goal. This article will provide you some helpful insights linking insomnia to obesity or weight gain.

Hormonal link between insomnia and weight gain

Hormones are believed to cause weight gain among individuals with insomnia. The researchers from UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior revealed that they identified two hormones as responsible for causing weight gain among individuals with insomnia. These hormones are ghrelin and leptin, which are known in regulating the energy balance in the body, as well as responsible for our cravings and hunger.

The stomach secretes ghrelin into the body system. It is known to be a peptide that can stimulate the appetite and its level usually increases before meal time. The fat cells, on the other hand, secrete leptin, which is responsible for signaling the hypothalamus regarding the storage of fats in the body. When there is an increased leptin levels in the body, it increases the body's energy expenditures while a low-level will cause a person to feel hungry.


The significance of these hormones in insomnia is that the lack of sleep can result in the dysregulation in the activities of these hormones that can increase the chance of gaining weight among the insomniacs. An increased level of ghrelin and a low-level of leptin induces a person to eat more. A sleep deprived person usually has a slow metabolism and as a result of this condition, one tends to gain more weight.

Other reasons why insomnia can cause weight gain

There are many areas of possibilities that link insomnia to weight gain. According to a study by the University of Chicago, whenever a person is deprived of sleep, the body becomes incapable of regulating the appetite which makes a person crave to eat more. Common food choices are those high in carbohydrates and fats which contribute to the weight gain of a person with insomnia.

Individuals who lack sufficient sleep at night tends to lose their energy during day time. They commonly feel fatigued and restless and usually finds exercise difficult to do. Moreover, with less exercise and more cravings, it can contribute to the faster storage of fats to the body because sleep deprivation also affects the body's basal metabolic rate, making it harder to burn out our calorie intake. The lack of sleep can also cause the body to increase more stress hormones called cortisol that can accelerate the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates with the resulting effect of increasing the appetite.

Generally, hormonal imbalances can result in sleep deprivation which consequently triggers the body's coping mechanism of releasing hormones that can stimulate the appetite, making one feel hungry and increase cravings even when one is already full. The more we lose sleep or deprive ourselves from getting enough sleep on a regular basis, this can cause havoc on the body's metabolic hormones that tend to slow down the fat burning ability of the body.

The growth hormone is also believed to decrease in amount among persons who lack sleep. The body needs the growth hormone to regulate the body's fat and muscle content. With the decreased amount of growth hormones in the body, there is the risk of losing muscles with an increased fat deposits in the body.

What to do and not to do in order to avoid weight gain and insomnia

There can be unpleasant consequences whenever insomnia and weight gain occur together. Not only can sleep deprivation increases your risk of developing health disorders, weight gain can also contribute or doubles the risk of the development of heart disease and diabetes. Here are the things that you should do and should not do in order to prevent the negative effects of insomnia and weight gain.

What to do:

  • Get an exercise regularly. This will help condition the body to feel more relaxed and helps you to get a better sleep at night.
  • Consume healthy food sources like vegetables and fruits.
  • Explore before bedtime activities that tend to make you feel relaxed, making it easier to fall asleep. Common effective activities that you can pursue include listening to the music, a warm bath or reading a book.
  • Make your room a place conducive for sleeping. Use dim lights and adjust the air conditioning in your room at a comfortable level.

What not to do:

  • Avoid eating heavy meals few minutes before going to bed. Do not eat protein rich foods a few minutes before sleeping because it can give the body a surge of energy to make it active, making it more difficult to sleep.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and drinks with caffeine content.
  • Don't take a nap during the day.
  • Do not force your body to sleep. It will only make you feel more agitated. Do the above-mentioned before bedtime activities instead to feel more relaxed and calm until you feel sleepy.


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