When it comes to maintaining your body weight, a lot of factors are involved. Eating, for one. How much exercise you get, for another. How much water you drink, how stressed you are, and what your other lifestyle habits are all play a hand in determining what pounds choose to stay on to your (aesthetically pleasing) body frame.

Sleep, too, also has a lot to do with those numbers the scale reads off to you when you stand on it. In fact, the less sleep you get on a regular basis, the more you’re likely to pack away those pounds that you don’t want to keep.

But why is it that this happens to us? Why does lack of sleep influence the size of our waistlines?

Your friends here at Fitmo decided to look into this topic and see if we could provide any insight. Because, y’know, we care.

It generates more cortisol in your system.

Did you know tiredness and sleep deprivation causes your body to produce more cortisol?

Well, now you do.

When your body increases its amount of cortisol, your appetite will also increase. This means you’ll be more likely to snack or stress-eat (because, say it with us, “cortisol = stress”). And when that happens, you’ll probably want food that’s not so great for you, because your body will be craving fatty, carby foods that will help it produce more serotonin so you can chill out.

And if you actually do grab these fatty, carby foods and eat them, they will make you gain weight over time.

Are we making sense?

It just makes you hungry in general sometimes

When you feel like you could use a nap or eight, there are other hormones besides cortisol that can go slightly haywire.

For instance, ghrelin is the hormone that makes you feel more hungry. Guess what happens when you’re sleepy? That’s right, it increases.

Meanwhile, Leptin, the hormone that helps you feel satiated…can you guess what happens to that? Yep. It decreases.

The ghrelin/leptin imbalance greatly contributes to the issue of gaining weight from losing sleep. But you know what the biggest factor in all this probably is?

Your body goes into survival mode

When this happens, you start to retain weight overall. And when you retain weight overall, you start to show it in places that may or may not look unflattering.

When your body enters “survival mode”, it significantly slows down your metabolism since it’s trying to conserve its resources. On top of that, as we’ve already learned so far, it wants more food to keep going as well, which will – again – cause you to have the munchies.

Some argue if this “survival mode” is actually a reality, a myth, or an entirely misunderstood syndrome. It’s your body – you be the judge.

Your fat cells cause problems

When you’re feeling like you need a good night’s amount of shut-eye but you refuse to provide it, your fat cells’ capability to react to insulin (which regulates your energy storage) is decreased by nearly 30%. Naturally, this contributes to the whole “putting-on-weight” thing.

You have no energy to exercise.

Working on your fitness is an important part of keeping unwanted extra pounds off your body. But if you don’t have the energy to do it, you’re not going to be motivated to. Therefore, you won’t do it. Obviously, lack of sleep contributes to feeling lethargic, fatigued, and kinda lazy in general.

Your Hypothalamus is activated.

The Hypothalamus is the area of the brain that takes care of producing a large portion of your body’s hormones. This includes Orexin, which is a neuropeptide responsible for the regulation of wakefulness and appetite. That’s what causes your body to not feel “full” sometimes, so you’ll just want to keep eating and eating, starting the vicious cycle all over again.

You’ll drink more caffeine

If you’re a soda drinker, or you’re into sugary energy drinks, that’s what you’ll be reaching for when you need a good pick-me-up to stay awake. True, they may help you keep your eyes open longer, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t inadvertently make you crave more sugary junk foods that won’t help your cause. Sigh.

You’ll end up eating hundreds of more calories a day.

A study was conducted in 2009 that suggested that people who slept less overall burned the exact same number of calories as those who slept more – except they ate at least 300 more a day. That, friends, doesn’t help your calorie deficit, now does it?

That about sums it up for now, dear readers. We hope that this has inspired you to – y’know – maybe get solid eight hours of sleep in tonight when you turn in for bed? Believe us: it will help with your overall health, both in ways that you can see, and some you can’t. Nighty night!

Guest Post by Sarah Cummings

You can find Sarah over at Sleepadvisor, where she gives great advice on getting the best sleep of your life! You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

One thought on “How Lack of Sleep Could Cause Weight Gain

  1. Alisha Ross says:

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