How Lack Of Sleep Leads To Weight Gain

I know you hear it all the time: get more sleep, go to bed earlier, log off, shut down, get some rest.

I also know that this message often goes in one ear and out the other.

But have you ever really stopped to consider how lack of sleep leads to weight gain?

Prior to having my daughter, I was religious about my sleep schedule. I woke up at 5:00 AM every morning so I was disciplined about going to bed by 9:30 PM. At this time in life, I had enough time in the day to get most things done (imagine that) so bedtime was regularly observed.

The busier my daughter gets, the more I understand why so many moms stay up late after the whole house has gone to bed, burning the midnight oil.

I’ve found myself succumbing to the late night routine more and more but I’m feeling the negative effects. So I’m determined to get back in the habit of protecting my sleep.

What if I told you that the secret to losing weight/maintaining your weight/staying health was simply going to bed earlier each night? No extra workouts. No strict diets.

Wouldn’t that be great? Well, good news, sleep may be just the thing you need.

When you’re short on sleep, everything suffers.

A lack of sleep leads to weight gain in more ways than one. I’ve experienced this first hand and you may have too.

Perhaps this cycle sounds familiar…

You go to bed late knowing that the alarm will be sounding all too soon. When you hear the buzz in the morning you hit snooze a few extra times in a desperate attempt to get a few extra minutes of sleep because the thought of getting up is more than you can bear. When you finally roll out of bed you realize you’re short on time from your excessive snoozing session which means no time for breakfast and a rushed morning full of extra stress (cortisol, the stress hormone that leads to weight gain, is immediately released into the body).

As the day goes on your low energy level leads you to grab whatever quick source of energy you can get your hands on; a Venti Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, a muffin from the office break room, a diet coke with lunch, a handful of candy as you pass the front desk. You’re tired, you need it, right?

By the time you make it home you’re too exhausted to workout and cooking a healthy dinner sounds like way too much work. Takeout and the couch win the day. And perhaps a little ice cream out of the carton because it was a rough day. You deserve it, right?

And as you can imagine, if you stay up late again, the whole cycle will start again the next morning.

Lack of sleep leads to weight gain in sneaky, unsuspecting ways.

When I don’t get enough sleep my cravings for sweets are at an all time high. And giving in to those sweet cravings because it’s an “off” day just leads to more sweet cravings in the future.

It’s a vicious cycle that starts and ends with sleep.

There are a whole host of other reasons why sleep is imperative for good health (including hormones related to metabolism and self-control) but today I’ll leave it at this.

Notice you how you feel when you’re running low on sleep. Notice what you reach for when you need that extra boost of energy.

And then make plan to break the cycle.

Set a phone reminder to go off 20 minutes before your desired bedtime. Let that be your cue to start logging off, shutting down and unwinding for the night.

You will be more productive, more effective and more efficient if you protect your sleep on a nightly basis. (click to tweet)

I’m curious, are you disciplined about getting 7.5+ hours of sleep at night or is sleep the first thing to go when life gets busy?





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  1. Chandelle 7 years ago

    yep. SO experience this too! I would LOVE to be able to get to bed earlier and be able to get up before my 14 month old each morning so I can start the day on a good note instead of rushing to get him up when he wakes up and squeeze in all the other little things. how do you do this with a little one at home!??!

  2. Ahna 7 years ago

    I can easily go to sleep once I lay down, but my husband is not as blessed. When he was dancing with insomnia again a couple of months back I did some research on winding down before bed. We started cutting off all of our devices and reading a book, magazine or devotional. It really does help not having the stimulation of electronics. If only they could give us more hours in a day. 🙂 I love today’s focus on getting enough sleep.

  3. Roxann Brouwer 5 years ago

    Sleep, or lack of sleep is my downfall. I will try to hit the sheets earlier tonight and work on making that a habit. I’ve got this exercise thing down!!!

  4. Judy 5 years ago

    Very good article, Robin. Sleep problems are also common in women going thru perimenopause and then menopause, as well as in breast cancer survivors. Thx for putting a focus on sleep quality!

  5. Shannon 5 years ago

    I am loving your workouts and your clothing! Where did you get your outfit from today?

    • Robin Long 5 years ago

      Thanks Shannon! Today’s pants were from Athleta and the top was from Soybu. 🙂 xoxo

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