Lack of sleep frequently encourages munching on calorie- and fat-rich junk food. The LIFE Centre at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) explains the connection between (lack of) sleep and weight.

Studies have revealed a clear connection between your body weight and how much sleep you get.

For an adult who should typically sleep 7-8 hours per night, studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours per day can result in bodily changes that encourage weight gain.

These changes are related to:


1) The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control appetite​

Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that control appetite. Leptin signals when you are full whereas ghrelin encourages hunger. Lack of sleep makes you feel more hungry and lowers leptin levels, which makes it harder for you to know when you’ve had enough to eat. A growing waistline is the outcome of the combined effects.

Lack of sleep has been shown to impact the body’s reaction to insulin, which can lead to a drop in leptin levels and further dull your internal satiety signals.

2) Modified brain activity linked to higher odds of making unhealthy food choices

Studies have revealed that lack of sleep can alter brain function, which can encourage consuming on high-calorie and high-fat foods. Foods high in fats and carbohydrates have been demonstrated to have a stronger effect on an exhausted brain. Eating junk food simply makes you feel more “shiok” when you’re sleepy.

A person who gets less sleep also has more time to eat and choose bad foods. In fact, research have shown that sleep-deprived individuals who are exposed to mouthwatering foods have a tendency to consume more of them than rested individuals, particularly at night.

When we are exhausted, our brain just consumes more calories than we actually require, and our capacity to control our impulses may also be compromised.

3) Plain fatigue, which reduces the willingness to engage in physical activity

Reduced physical activity has also been linked to long-term sleep deprivation. This is due to the fact that getting less sleep than the recommended 7-8 hours would probably make you feel exhausted and less motivated to exercise. You burn less calories due to this decrease in physical activity, which over time may result in weight gain.

According to studies, persons who are sleep-deprived spend less time playing sports and being physically active and more time engaging in sedentary activities like watching TV.

5 suggestions for promoting restful sleep to keep a healthy weight

  1. Every day, go to bed and wake up at the same hour.
  2. Keep moving and exercise regularly.
  3. Avoid taking naps during the day.
  4. Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol before going to bed.
  5. Have a bedtime routine that aids in your relaxation.


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