Professionals Health Connection

Control Your Weight with a Good Night’s Sleep

Is the combination of lack of sleep and hormones the reason for your weight fluctuations?

Are you always tired?And feel an urge to eat more and exercise less? Maybe it’s not your self-control that’s to blame. If you find yourself eating more and too tired to exercise, you may want to learn more about Ghrelin, Leptin and your need for sleep. *Important: read this Note below…

Many signals within the body help control the amount of food we eat and there are 2 hormones, Leptin and Ghrelin, that are responsible for some of these signals. Armed with this information, when these hormones are ‘out of whack’, you’ll be able to recognize it and that knowledge will help you control them. And ‘what does this have to do with sleeping?’ you ask. We are glad you asked, read on…


The Appetite Suppressor

Leptin, which is stored and secreted by fat cells, is considered to be the master regulator of hunger. When you eat a meal, leptin is released from fat cells and sends a signal to your brain to let you know you’re full and to stop eating.


The Appetite Stimulator

Ghrelin is produced in the upper part of the stomach and is a hormone that increases hunger. When the stomach is empty, ghrelin travels through the bloodstream and tells the brain to signal hunger. After eating, the stomach stops releasing ghrelin. That’s one of the reasons why we should eat slowly – this is a complex process and those signals take time to get to our brain and register. Our ghrelin levels change throughout the day – they are high just before eating a meal, letting you know that you are hungry, and low just after eating, letting you know that you are full.

Age, gender, blood glucose, and leptin level can all affect ghrelin levels.

So, when you are dieting and eat less food, your ghrelin increases to high levels. This is your body’s attempt to make you eat more and slow weight loss. It is part of the reason why people tend to feel hungrier during weight loss diets. On the other hand, overeating decreases ghrelin to lower levels, which results in less hunger, a sense of fullness, and less urge to eat. People with stable weight have fewer changes in their ghrelin levels and a more balanced sense of hunger and fullness throughout the day.

Research has shown that the amount and quality of sleep influences ghrelin. Sleep-deprived adults tend to have higher ghrelin levels, are more hungry, and have less feeling of fullness as compared to adults who get seven-to-nine hours of sleep. See the chart below for the amount of sleep that’s right for you.

Here’s what happens to your Ghrelin levels when you don’t get enough sleep:

Ghrelin Leptin Chart & Sleeping

Studies have shown that obesity and physical inactivity are higher among people who do not get enough sleep for their age group. You might want to take a day or two off from work to relax, get back to exercising (which will help your sleep patterns too – just don’t exercise too close to bedtime!) and come up with a plan on how you can get more ‘me’ time so you can catch some ZZZ’s.

Health Risk Factors by Sleep Duration

Adults who were short sleepers (less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period) were more likely to report being obese, physically inactive, and current smokers compared to people who got enough sleep (7 or more hours per 24-hour period).

Age-Adjusted Percentage Reporting Health Risk Factors by Sleep Duration

Short sleep
(< 7 hours)
Sufficient sleep
(≥ 7 hours)
Health Risk Factor Definition % 95% CI % 95% CI
Obese Body Mass Index ≥ 30 kg/m 33.0 (32.5-33.5) 26.5 (26.2-26.9)
Physically inactive No leisure time physical activity in past 30 days 27.2 (26.8-27.7) 20.9 (20.6-21.2)
Current smoker Currently smoke cigarettes every day or some days 22.9 (22.4-23.4) 14.9 (14.6-15.2)
Excessive alcohol Underage drinker, binge drinker, or heavy drinker 19.4 (18.9-19.8) 19.1 (18.7-19.4)

The health risks are real and is something we need to take seriously. Hormones released during sleep also control the body’s use of energy. Studies founds that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese, to develop diabetes, and to prefer eating foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates. Getting sufficient sleep contributes to our overall health and ability to maintain an ideal weight.


How Much Sleep Do You Need?

So, now that you know that sleep is not just a luxury, but a sometimes-overlooked necessity, see just how much is right for you:

Age Group

Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day

Newborn 0–3 months 14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)
Infant 4–12 months 12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Toddler 1–2 years 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
Preschool 3–5 years 10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
School Age 6–12 years 9–12 hours per 24 hours
Teen 13–18 years 8–10 hours per 24 hours
Adult 18–60 years 7 or more hours per night
61–64 years 7–9 hours
65 years + 7–8 hours

Controlling Weight with Sleep

The next time you want a between meal snack, take a moment and think about how you slept the night before. It may turn out that all you really need is a good night’s sleep.

And if lack of sleep is keeping your weight higher than you would like, we found an article by Relax Like a Boss about Somniphobia – the fear of sleeping. Relax provide some advice on how to over come Somniphobia that you may find interesting as well.

Ahh, I think it’s time for a nap!  


Thank you for stopping by – we hope you found this information useful and share with your friends that may be burning the candle at both ends too. As always, we wish you the best of health!

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References: Taheri S. The link between short sleep duration and obesity – Arch Dis Child 2006;91:881–884; Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Note: ∗ This article is not to be taken as medical advice. Sleep disorders are serious medical conditions that may have many causes, weight issues may also be a result of medical conditions. It is important to see your doctor for medical advice on health issues.