9 Ways Lack of Sleep Is Preventing You From Losing Weight

Author’s avatar OptimumSleep

It’s morning. You get up and head straight to your bathroom scales, filled with hope. But what do you see? The machine tells you the same old story! Or perhaps worse?


Trust me, I know - there’s nothing more frustrating and demoralizing! Why are you not able to lose weight? Why is the scale stuck at the same number?

Lack of sleep and weight loss relation Image Source: Unsplash

However much you may try to control your calorie intake and exercise, at least whenever possible, that extra fat still just refuses to go away!

The whole night you were anxiously waiting to finally see some good numbers flash up on your scales. But still, it gives you bad news!

Hey…What did you just say? You were AWAKE! The WHOLE night?

Now I get it!

If that’s the case, then we have found why you may not be losing weight. It’s your sleep!

Want to know more? Read on to learn how a lack of sleep could be responsible for obesity as well as your inability to shed those unnecessary pounds.

Ready to go?

Top 9 Reasons Why a Lack of Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain

1. Reduced Impulse Control

Skimping on your sleep can set up your brain to make some bad decisions, and unfortunately for you, one of those bad decisions could be to look for something sugary to feed on.

Research has proven that when you don’t sleep well, activity in the frontal lobe of the brain is reduced. Due to this, your decision-making skills and impulse control functions are hampered.

As a result, you lack the mental clarity needed to make the right decisions and thus, you can end up eating an excess of calories. Your overtired brain just doesn’t try to stop you from doing it. It just wants to catch up on a few minutes of rest it has missed out on. It loosens the control on your cravings and your intake of junk foods.

Impulse control Image Source: Pexels

This is why you tend to eat more even when your inner voice says you shouldn’t. And needless to say, when you eat more, you gain more weight.

2. Not a Bowl; Give Me a Plate!

Your portion size matters a lot when you are on a weight loss journey. It is advisable to always eat from smaller bowls and ditch those large plates.

Because when you serve food in a bowl, it appears full even though the actual quantity of food in it is less. This tricks your brain into thinking that you have eaten enough and reduces your calorie intake because you have actually eaten less.

Research has proven that sleep deprivation causes people to consume larger portions of food, which is one of the reasons why a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain.

3. I Am Not Full

According to research, lack of sleep through regularly not sleeping well can change the hormone levels in your body in such a way that your sense of satiety is reduced. You feel as if you are still not full and want to eat some more, which is not what you should be doing when you are exercising or dieting to lose weight.

4. Dampens Your Metabolism

Your metabolism is like a fire on which the fats stored in your body are burnt. The more fire, the faster the fat loss.

Hence, if you want to lose weight, you must take steps to increase your metabolic rate. But a lack of sleep does just the opposite. It triggers a spike in cortisol production.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, for when your body believes that you are in some danger and may need more fuel in case you have to run to escape or fight to survive the dangerous situation. Hence, it instructs your body that it needs to conserve energy.

The result? Your body hangs on to all the fat and doesn’t shed it.

5. Cortisol At Work…Yet Again…

Cortisol released due to the lack of sleep doesn’t just stop at reducing your body’s metabolic rate. It does one more thing to keep you obese - it also increases your stress levels. That’s why it is called a ‘negative hormone.’

It’s responsible for all the negative thoughts that enter your mind. High cortisol levels can make you stressed, anxious and even depressed. Research has proven that people who have higher stress levels, or those who are depressed, tend to eat more. And eat more high-carb and high-fat foods.

This happens because these foods please your taste buds, making you feel good temporarily. Eating high-carb and high-fat foods also cause an immediate surge in your energy levels thus creating a sense of “everything is OK.”

These effects of cortisol-induced stress and the food intake that follows is often responsible for why you gain weight when you don’t sleep well.

6. What About Catabolism?

We had a look at how a lack of sleep can affect your metabolism and cause weight gain. Now, let me reveal how it affects your catabolism and produces the same effect of weight gain.

A lack of sleep modifies the catabolic processes, due to which the breakdown of muscle cells to release amino acids is stimulated. This results in the loss of muscle mass. It should be noted that a higher muscle mass, if you had retained it, could have helped you lose weight by burning more energy.

But, now that you have lost the muscle mass, the energy expenditure by them too is reduced. As a result, you may not burn up as many calories as you could have by sleeping well and preventing the breakdown of the muscle cells.

7. I Don’t Want To Exercise Today… Please

A lack of sleep will give you (seemingly) a genuine excuse to skip your gym visit. You will feel too tired and lethargic to go to the gym or even walk outdoors. Your body and mind will feel so drowsy that you will prefer to just lie down on the couch and do nothing, except watching TV and munching on some chips.

This will not only deprive you of the huge weight loss benefits of exercising but also pile up your body with more bad stuff from food like chips!

8. I Just Don’t Feel Like Cooking Dinner

You are more likely to order your dinner to your door than cook a healthy, nutritional meal for yourself at home when you haven’t slept well the night before.

A lack of sleep can leave you feeling drowsy for the whole day. You can easily lose any willpower left within you to go to the kitchen, cut fruits and veggies, prepare salad, or cook a low-calorie meal.

Dinner and sleep Image Source: Pixabay

You would rather order something from Uber Eats. And when it’s restaurant food, it’s definitely yummy; but not always low in calories!

9. The Post-Dinner Date

When you do not get a sound sleep, your inner instincts invite you for a post-dinner date. You’re tempted to get up and visit the kitchen for some snacks. And since you’re not feeling sleepy, chances are you’ll do just that.

You get up, go to the kitchen, out of curiosity and boredom. You open the fridge, just to check, without any intention to eat. Then, you see a slice of cake!

Ok… So, how’s a small piece of cake going to harm your weight loss efforts? That’s what you think. And then you eat it, despite the fact that you were really neither hungry nor deprived of energy.

But, you did it anyway and hampered your own efforts to lose weight just because you were bored, lying in bed without any sleep!

Let’s Summarize

So, let’s accept the fact that being short on sleep gives your body a perfect recipe to pile on the pounds.

Whatever the reason may be for why you are not able to sleep well, whether it be an addiction to your laptop or smartphone; or an old worn-out mattress that doesn’t provide the comfort needed to sleep well…

It’s time you said enough - take a few minutes from your busy schedule and analyze your routine and lifestyle habits to find the exact cause of your lack of sleep. Take steps to avoid it.

And then, move on with your weight loss efforts. And this time, when you get up in the morning and head straight to your bathroom to check your weight, I’m sure it will have a much nicer story to tell you!