Sleep and weight loss: 5 tips for success

What relationship can there be between sleep and weight loss ?

Well, I'm probably not teaching you anything if I tell you that eating healthy, sleeping well and exercising are 3 essential activities for health. Is not it ?

Indeed, their essential role in good health and well-being throughout our lives is no longer to be proven. However, does sleep belong in the “weight loss” rubric?  

It is true that diet and exercise do have a prominent place in a weight loss program. The way of eating being by far the most important factor. But what about sleep? 

Well, this article deals precisely with the role that sleep plays on body mass. Read it carefully...

Sleep and Weight Loss: The Facts

A recent study conducted by the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study concluded that a causal relationship exists between insufficient sleep (less than 7 hours) and a high body mass index (BMI) in all groups of age tested. 

Already in 2017, a study established the link between the increased risk of obesity and lack of sleep in children and adolescents. 

A analysis of 2020 published by Elsevier Ltd, based on 20 studies, explains that an increase of 41 % in the risk of obesity was found in adults who slept less than 7 hours per night. In contrast, sleep was not a factor in the development of obesity in adults who slept longer (7–9 hours per night).

A study even concludes that a short sleep duration may be a predictor of weight gain, and an important risk factor for the development of insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A meta-analysis revealed that each reduction of 1 h of sleep per day is associated with a 0.35 kg m -2 increase in body mass index (BMI).  

The causes 

Lack of sleep and weight gain

So what's going on in your body for a short sleep time to impact your body mass? 

The answer lies mainly in 2 hormones: 

  • Leptin: Released by fat cells, this hormone regulates the feeling of satiety and metabolism by binding to a receptor located on the hypothalamus. The level of leptin in the blood is proportional to the level of body fat.
  • Ghrelin: Hormone released in the stomach that stimulates appetite. Its level is high before meals and decreases with filling of the stomach.

Now that you know what these 2 hormones are, let's explain the link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. 

Hormones, sleep and weight loss

A short sleep duration leads to a decrease in serum leptin concentrations. The result is that you don't feel full. You are hungry all the time! 

Poor quality or insufficient sleep also leads to an increase in ghrelin. Suddenly, the appetite hormone level increases and you are hungry!  

The process is clear, isn't it? A real vicious circle.

To make matters worse, studies show that people whose lack of sleep disrupts leptin and ghrelin levels tend to consume more calories. This represents 385 extra calories per day on average. Knowing that an excess of 7700 Calories increases your body fat by 1 kilo, this daily difference will make you fat by 18 kg in one year 😱!

And this additional consumption of food comes mainly from foods high in bad fats and sugar. What is the reason ? 

Sleep and brain health

sleep and weight loss - brain action
There is a strong link between the brain, sleep and weight loss

Your organization's control tower is the brain. And it is from him that come all the mechanisms that manage the quantity and quality of what we ingest. Let's elaborate a bit...


Stress management

Poor sleep, or short sleep, unbalances the sympathetic nervous system of the human body. The level of certain stress-related hormones then increases, including that of cortisol

Too high a level of cortisol promotes the accumulation of triglycerides, mainly in visceral adipocytes, that is to say at the level of the abdominal belt.

Cortisol also accentuates the feeling of hunger.

Managing food choices

And this stress added to the decrease in cognitive performance leads to a impaired judgment. And among the bad decisions made are those concerning diet. 

Eh yes ! Who would have made the connection between his poor food choices and his sleep pattern? 

This same decrease in cognitive performance will weaken the will to resist certain tempting foods, such as those high in saturated fat and sugar. Admit that you rarely throw yourself on green beans at breakfast time!

Plus, many studies show that food makes a tired brain feel better. 

For example, one found that sleep-deprived participants had better reward-related brain responses after viewing images of high-calorie foods. And the majority of them were not even disturbed by the fact of paying more for the food consumed.

Taste management

Added to this are the results of a study on an odor processing region called the piriform cortex. The sense of smell is closely linked to the way we choose what we eat and its balance is also affected by lack of sleep

The brain processes input from central olfactory circuits in tandem with the endocannabinoid system. In sleep-deprived subjects, a compound of the endocannabinoid system was increased, which enhanced the encoding of food odors in the piriform cortex and steered dietary choices toward high-calorie dishes or foods.

Circulus Vitiosus

If you lost your Latin, circulus vitiosus means vicious circle.

As you will have understood, a short sleep duration or sleep disorders can greatly disrupt the hormonal, nervous and cerebral system. These disturbances can lead to uncontrolled weight gain.

And unfortunately, being overweight is a aggravating factor sleep disorders. For example, being overweight is often the cause of sleep apnea. And therefore an additional deterioration in your quality of sleep.

How to get out of this vicious circle?

How to sleep better to lose weight

bedtime to lose weight
Sleep and weight loss with good habits

Not less than 35 % of American adults sleep less than 7 hours per night.

Are the French more reasonable? 

In fact, Public Health France published in March 2019 the results of a study on the sleep of French people and announced that approximately 35.9 % of people aged 18 to 75 questioned said they slept less than 6 hours

If you are one of those people and you are following a weight loss program, you need to remedy the situation. Maximize your chances of success by including extra sleep time alongside your diet and exercise regimen. This is what will allow you to create a virtuous circle to lose weight effectively and sustainably.

Good news, you will now discover 5 tips to get there…

1. Change the bedtime

It turns out that the later you go to bed, the more opportunities you have to eat. The supper goes away and we nibble something. We make a bowl of milk with whole grains or not in it. Or even worse, we end a summer evening with a little ice cream. 

Going to bed earlier can therefore help you avoid these too many snacks.

Additionally, late meals are associated with greater weight gain and decreased fat oxidation, making weight loss more difficult. 

And that's without forgetting that eating too close to bedtime disrupts sleep...

Doctors and nutritionists advise respecting a period of 2 to 3 hours between the last meal and bedtime. If you want to avoid feeling hungry during this time, focus on satiating foods rich in essential amino acids and fiber. 

2. Get in shape

"Go to bed earlier ? It's all well and good, but I'll never be able to fall asleep!” you might say. I know you 😉

Indeed, changing your bedtime can take a little getting used to, and even be a real challenge. But you also have to know how to put yourself in condition and create an environment conducive to falling asleep.

Here are some rules to follow: 

  • Avoid stimulants like nicotine and caffeine (which can be found in many drinks);
  • Don't exercise too close to bedtime;
  • Limit alcoholic beverages;
  • Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques;
  • Avoid stressful entertainment at least one hour before bedtime (video games, movies)
  • Keep the bedroom quiet and cool (more on this below);
  • Block natural or artificial light sources;  
  • Do not keep connected devices in the bedroom. 

The list of tips is far from exhaustive, as there are many other factors that prevent a good sleep, such as noise pollution from the neighborhood or the management of a pet. But everyone can look for anything that suits them to improve their environment or find tips that suit them well to get in shape. 

3. Be regular

Another good measure to improve the quality of your sleep is to keep the same bedtime and wake-up times each day.

Your biological clock is a fragile machine and is easily disrupted as soon as your bedtime and wake-up times vary too often and are more than an hour apart. Of course, I am aware that this advice is inapplicable for those who work staggered hours. But if this is not your case, heed this important advice.

Moreover, when I was younger, I worked in 3X8 and 5X8, and a doctor had strongly advised me to change position or work. This type of job led me to chronic insomnia. I still have the scars 30 years later...

4. Be active

sports for better sleep
Sport promotes sleep and weight loss

The regular practice of a sport greatly improves the quality of sleep.

Why ?

Simply put, because physical exercise has a positive effect on all body functions, including those related to sleep. In fact, your body always works better when the cardiovascular system is performing.

And in return, good sleep will allow your body to repair and regenerate well to maintain good physical abilities. This always comes with extra energy and motivation for the day's activities.

However, avoid sports sessions after 8 p.m. because your body will have a hard time getting into sleep mode at the desired time. Not to mention that it would delay the time of your last meal…

5. Lower the room temperature

To fall asleep, your body must lower your body temperature by about 1°. That's why you should make sure to keep your bedroom relatively cool, even in winter.

Your dinner will also play a key role in this area. The number of calories consumed is not the only important factor, but also the timing of the meal and the macro nutrients absorbed.

Eat at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed and favor animal or vegetable proteins with a few complex carbohydrates and good fats.

Avoid simple carbohydrates and sugars during this meal. Indeed, when you eat them, your body must burn or store them. For this, it may keep you awake and deprive you of a good night's sleep.

Sleep and Weight Loss: Conclusion

Getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can sabotage your efforts to losing weight.

This leads to hormonal imbalances that lead to increased hunger and stress, unwise food choices and a lack of motivation for physical exercise.

Getting enough, quality sleep can make all the difference in helping you achieve your goals of losing weight or maintaining your ideal weight. 

And if you manage to improve your sleep pattern, also take into account that the effects of a lack of sleep can persist for up to a week. Which means that once in a while swerving could ruin your efforts for several days. Be as regular as possible! 

Getting quality sleep is good for the body and mind. Maintaining these two elements in good health is an undeniable asset for those who want to get rid of their fat. 

Leave a comment below to ask your questions or share your experience and advice in this area. THANK YOU !

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1 thought on “Sommeil et perte de poids : 5 conseils pour réussir”

  1. We often tend to forget these valuable tips, but a reminder shot is always good. I think my night rhythm doesn't really help me because during the confinement I had stopped my night work and I had lost weight without changing my eating habits.

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