Sleep and Weight Loss – What Does the Research Say?

There are so many reasons not to burn the candle at both ends – this can hamper good health, lower your productivity, increase stress and so on.

But what recent research seems to stress is the relationship between sleep and weight loss – multiple studies have shown that lack of good sleep can actually hamper weight loss, causing the body to perceive stress and hold on to its fat stores. Sleep, or rather lack of it, impact body weight in 2 ways:


This study as reported by WebMD, demonstrated that sleepy people tend to eat more; and also significant is the fact that when sleepy, people tend to eat more fatty foods.

According to Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, and colleagues at New York Obesity Research Center, when people are sleepy, they don’t have very good judgement in terms of what they should eat and this makes people prone to overeating and eating unhealthy foods.

In the study, the eating patterns of sleep deprived  men and women were examined and it was found that when the study participants were sleepy, they ate as many as 300 calories extra and most of those calories came from unhealthy foods that were high in saturated fats.

And the study also found that women were more likely to overeat when they were sleepy than men. Part of it is the fact that when people are awake for longer they are likelier to eat, but it is rather more complex than just the fact of more hours of awake time.

Another study, conducted at the Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research in Portland, claims that it is stress as well as lack of sleep that is responsible for hampering one’s weight loss efforts. Too little sleep was seen to be a problem even for those who were on a good weight loss program includingdiet and exercise.

According to study author Dr. Charles Elder, sleeping for an optimal amount each night and controllingstress levels would actually help a person lose weight.

This is because when stress levels are high, focus is compromised and a person is unable to bring about the behavioral changes necessary to facilitate weight loss.

According to Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, changes in diet and increasing exercise are important for losing weight, but sleep may be just as important, since sleep can enhance overall health – mental as well as physical; which makes one’sweight loss efforts healthier and more holistic.