Health & Wellness Articles

Insomnia Can Hinder Your Weight Loss

Sleepless Nights Stop Progress

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So you already know that a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise program are keys to your weight loss plan. But are you listening to that other recommendation you’ve heard more than once in your life? Get plenty of sleep. Recent medical studies show that sleep loss can increase hunger and affect your body’s metabolism in a way that makes weight loss more difficult. So if you’re making a good effort in your nutrition and fitness plans, you still might be able to improve your success with better sleep.

How Sleep Loss Affects Weight Loss
  1. Hormone function affects the way fat cells respond to the food we eat. Cortisol is a hormone that is commonly released in response to physical or emotional stress. When we are deprived of sleep, cortisol is released at an increased level and makes us feel hungry even if we are full. As a result, people who continue to lose sleep on a regular basis will tend to experience hunger even when they have had an adequate amount of food.
  2. Sleep loss results in less deep sleep, the kind that restores our energy levels. Losing deep sleep hours decreases growth hormone levels. Growth hormone is a protein that helps regulate the body’s proportions of fat and muscle in adults. With less growth hormone, we reduce the ability to lose fat and grow muscle.
  3. With a loss of sleep, your body may not be able to metabolize carbohydrates as well, which leads to an increased storage of fats and higher levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body has trouble disposing of glucose in the liver and other tissues. It is a trigger for serious health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes.
  4. A lack of sleep goes hand in hand with a lack of energy – not a new concept, but perhaps you’ve grown used to your daily levels of energy and don’t notice that you could gain more. Not only do we accomplish less with less sleep, we also don’t burn as many calories. The body’s reaction is to hoard calories as fat, making our weight loss goals more difficult than they need to be. Sleep is starting to sound pretty important now, isn’t it? Continued ›
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About The Author

Laura Bofinger Laura Bofinger
As a freelance writer, Laura uncovers some kind of inspiration every day when she writes about health and fitness.

Member Comments

  • I go to bed late by choice. Since I live alone my Sons don't feel it is safe for me to be up so late. Hopefully this article will kick in so I will quit being so foolish! - 4/16/2016 11:13:59 PM
  • I haven't been able to sleep "normal" for quite a while but not sure what to change. I limit caffeine to lunch or earlier, I exercise regularly, I eat lighter meals for dinner, I take melatonin, and I have a regular schedule (frequently wake up before my 6AM daily). I seem to have the best luck getting quality sleep when I stay up as late as possible (sometimes as late as 2AM), to the point I'm exhausted instead of just sleepy. When my boyfriend stays over, I get even less sleep (he sometimes snores and I'm a very light sleeper), then I get mad because he sleeps like a log for 8-10 hours. - 4/16/2016 6:45:38 PM
  • I average between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours a night which is pretty bad. But, DH cannot sleep without the TV being on and I know it keeps me awake and doesn't allow me to get into a deep sleep. So maybe a divorce would help? LOL - 2/15/2016 8:29:39 AM
  • They missed a very important factor of what could be affecting your sleep. Kids! I have 2 that are sick right now and one has been having night terrors on top of it. Having a toddler start screaming and throwing a fit in the middle of the night is not conducive to a good night's sleep. - 12/8/2015 9:09:09 AM
  • Good article. But I get my sleep. All day I be doing things so when it's time for me to go to bed I go and I sleep good. The only time I don't sleep good is when my hip is really hurting so bad that I just can't rest good or my shoulder. - 6/29/2013 8:06:59 AM
  • TWIGGY2009
    Working steady midnights like I have for the past 12 years has not helped me in any way! My weight has plummeted over 50 lbs, I have no energy no friends no relationships no natural enjoyment for anything! Nothing to make me feeling like I have something wonderful here and now! I have researched what happens to your body when working all night. Your metabolism slows down even though you are physically active. But the expert advice still has you eating 5 meals a day?So having said all that the thing is quit my job join weight watchers start an exercise program move to a healthier living enviroment and win the lottery! - 1/29/2013 5:40:01 PM
  • TURK2010
    i enjoy reading before bedtime but on some days when i'm wired up and have too much going on......reading aloud gets me tired and able to sleep more soundly just like when i was a kid:) - 1/28/2013 7:00:25 AM
  • Reading this at 2:44 am - because I can't sleep. :p I fall asleep, usually very well, very quickly but I need to get up for the washroom almost every morning around 2 or 3 am. I have very few nights when I can actually sleep all the way through. Also, after getting back to bed, my tooth or teeth started hurting, so I got back up to brush my teeth again. Back to bed, still can't sleep, so now I'm here. My husband and I both also being out of work, the temp agency called a few times the last week or so for me to work night shift after being awake since 2 or 3 am each day - I'm going to practice split shift so that I can work any shift. I'm so tired, I'll be going back to bed soon. - 1/28/2013 2:48:58 AM
  • I have a terrible problem going to sleep at night. I have tried all of these steps but still cannot get to sleep at night - 1/28/2013 1:53:48 AM
  • Thank you for this article. I believe that insomnia is the main root of my obesity. Full disclosure: what I put in my mouth is the cause of my obesity. BUT why I overate/eat is another story. From the time my one and only child was born, when I was 34 yo, I slept poorly. Nothing new there but my sleep problems persisted after my child was not a baby. (he had some problems with school which kept me awake but not him. I feel like I attended 4th thru 8th grade twice - once for myself and once with him!) Worrying about kids keep many mothers awake and then comes menopause. I slept about 25 hours a week during mp. Finally my dr. found something to help me but it was a long sleepless haul for me. By the time I started sleeping again I was 100 lbs. overweight. I sleep now but the damage has been done. Get help early, keep searching for it until you sleep and BTW the kids will be fine.
    - 1/27/2013 8:00:19 AM
  • BUCK15
    I recently started working nights 4 days a week and have a young son. My husband is supportive, but it is difficult to get good, sound sleep during the day. Any other "shift workers" out there with some good advice for managing an unconventional schedule? - 9/9/2012 9:50:44 PM
  • I try to get the sleep I need but working two jobs and going to school in addition to taking care of my family doesn't leave me much time. It's usually the weekendwhwen I'm home from both places that I can get a little rest. Is there a way to get the sleep I need and maintan my current pace. - 9/8/2012 7:04:44 AM
  • Ihave already have sleep apnea and don't use my cpap all the time . I do get more sleep with it. If I don't use it I wake up about every hour. Broken sleep makes you feel like you haven't slept at all. - 9/4/2012 1:16:38 PM
  • K_RENEE
    Aww. Reading this article makes me sad! I am suffering from a terrible bout of insomnia (this happened to me about 5 years ago and lasted a little over 2 years) and I don't know what to do to make it better. I don't want this to hinder my progress. - 10/29/2011 3:59:14 PM
  • I just re-read this article. There is a lot of great information here. But most of all, I really appreciate Spark People's stance on the GI Diet. - 8/17/2011 8:22:33 AM

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