The consequences of poor-quality sleep can lead to weight gain and other chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re having trouble losing weight, it may be time to adjust your sleep habits. Sleep data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 35% of adults in America sleep less than seven hours most nights (adults generally need 7-9 hours each night) – and this can affect weight loss efforts.

Why sleep quality is important

Multiple research studies examine the correlation between healthy sleep patterns and weight loss, noting the various health effects of sleep deprivation. Sleeping less than seven hours per night leads to weight gain because a lack of sleep disrupts hormone function within the body, creating an imbalance. For example, research findings indicate that healthy adults actually gained approximately 1.8 pounds after sleeping five hours a night for five days. Poor sleep habits also cause changes in appetite and increase your daily calorie intake.

Some reasons for this include the shift in hormone production, particularly those that regulate hunger – ghrelin and leptin. Inadequate sleep influences the physiological function of both hormones by producing more ghrelin, signaling hunger, and decreasing leptin levels that affect satiety. This hormonal imbalance impacts appetite, causing individuals to overeat and contributing to weight gain. Sleep deprivation leads to frequent snacking and unhealthy food choices, like sugary, high calorie items to counteract low energy levels. So, getting enough shut-eye can help keep your appetite in check and support the function of the body’s systems.

Insufficient sleep also interferes with essential physiological processes, such as fat oxidation, blood sugar regulation, and insulin production, according to The Sleep Foundation. As a result, your body will store excess fat, rather than converting food sugars into energy, which prevents weight loss and increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these risks by practicing good sleep hygiene.

How to improve sleep quality

Improving sleep quality helps support weight loss in addition to other health benefits, like decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases. If you want to enhance your weight loss efforts, start by getting better quality sleep with these habits:

Create a sleep ritual: Go to bed and wake up at the same time, making sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each day. Getting enough sleep helps maintain energy levels and hormonal balance.

Avoid eating before bed: Eating close to bedtime makes it difficult to sleep and interferes with healthy weight loss. 

Prepare a healthy sleep environment: Shut off electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime and keep your room dark to eliminate distractions. A proper environment ensures a restful sleep and decreases the risk of weight gain.

Reduce stress: Try a relaxing bath, or reading before bed. Chronic stress impacts sleep quality and decreases energy, leading to weight gain.

So, start prioritizing these healthy sleep habits tonight to feel better and maintain your weight loss goals!