The trigger for your weight gain could be sleep loss. What if the key to easier weight loss was just getting your head on the pillow earlier at night? Between work, school and social life, few of us get as much sleep as we need. And, that can lead to a higher number on the scale and even, over time, weight related illnesses like diabetes.

How Sleep Loss Causes Weight Gain

When we are overtired, our brains react differently to temptations of high fat foods. Cravings are stronger, and we are more likely to give in. The hormones that influence your eating, ghrelin and leptin, get out of whack. Ghrelin, which stimulates hunger, is increased. Leptin, which makes you feel full, shows up in smaller than normal amounts.

According to one expert, if you are getting only about 5 hours of sleep a night, you have a sleep loss problem. Just changing your schedule to allow 7 or 8 can help you take off as much as 10 pounds without consciously altering your routine in any other way.

Secrets to Overcoming Sleep Loss

There are many strategies you can try to decrease sleep loss and increase the amount of sleep you get each night. Try out as many non-drug sleep aid techniques as possible before looking into sleep aids, as they do not provide the same quality sleep and are only meant as a short term solution. For lasting effects, you need to change your relationship with sleep. A few tips:


  • Scale back on the caffeine. If you constantly have a latte at hand, the caffeine can be keeping you from resting. Switch to decaf after 4 pm.
  • Get enough exercise every day. If you are sitting at a desk or hanging on the couch, your body will not get tired out enough to want to go to sleep, and sleep loss can be the result.
  • Don’t do hard cardio too close to bedtime. You’ll be too keyed up to get to sleep. Instead, if you want to work out at night, do some relaxing stretching exercises.
  • Remove electronics from your bedroom. Laptops, cell phones and tablets often have glowing buttons that can keep us from getting the full dark we need for quality sleep. Banish your gadgets to another room or at least a dark drawer.
  • Try to get to sleep and get up in the morning at the same times every day. Consistency makes it easier to get to sleep and decrease sleep loss
  • Don’t over-schedule. If you are losing sleep because you have too much going on, look at what can be cut back to ensure you are getting your Zs.
  • Limit daytime napping to no more than 30 minutes a day


As soon as you realize you are having problems falling asleep, get up, and go to some other room in the house, and find something to do like reading a dull book, or watching a boring movie on tv. As soon as you begin to get sleepy, go back to the bedroom and go to sleep.

Try doing some yoga, or some other exercises to help you to relax and wind down. This often works for me.

A Balanced Diet And Exercise Are Important In Overcoming Sleep Loss

Adequate sleep alone will not do all the work of losing weight, of course. You need to add diet and exercise to the mix of healthy habits to accomplish your weight loss goals and keep the weight off for good. Remember that the more severe your sleep loss, the more vulnerable you are to weight gain. If your sleep loss is severe, I recommend that you contact your family physician as soon as possible.

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