Do Our Sleep Habits Affect Weight Loss? + 5 Tips to Get More Z’s

Optimizing your sleep habits may be more important than you think.

By: Lexy Parsons

Let’s face it, we’ve all suffered from those sleepless nights, and I think we can all agree — it’s no fun. According to research from the CDC, 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep. Unfortunately, sleep loss is far too common, and what’s worse is that running on low sleep has become the standard for most busy or stressed adults. Sleep directly affects our health, and skimping out on shut-eye can have serious consequences on our health and fitness goals. So, night owls, this one’s for you. Curious about the lack of sleep weight gain connection? Read on for all you need to know.

How a Lack of Sleep Affects Weight Loss Efforts 

According to research, sleep loss is closely related to hormonal shifts. When our sleep-wake cycle (also known as our circadian rhythm) is out of sync, our hormones pay the price. Science shows that sleep modulates our appetite hormones, leptin, and ghrelin. While these hormones are balanced during a restful night of sleep, sleep loss has the opposite effect. Inadequate sleep stimulates ghrelin, our hunger hormone, while simultaneously “turning off” leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite. 

And not only will you experience an increase in appetite, but you’ll be more tempted by hyper-palatable foods.

5 Hacks to Get More Sleep 

We know that there’s a big connection between a lack of sleep and appetite, so we want to set you up for success here by sharing five hacks for getting more Zs. 

If you find it hard to get those golden 7-9 hours of sleep per night, give these hacks a try. Hey, even if they only help you sleep an extra half-hour each night, that’s a big step in the right direction. 

#1 Give Yourself a Bedtime 

Set bedtimes aren’t just for kids. Having a set time that you hit the hay each night will help you establish healthier nighttime habits to not only get into bed earlier but to improve the quality of your sleep. 

Oh, and the earlier, the better. Research suggests that 10 PM may be the best time to hit the hay, but ultimately consistency is key. So, whatever time you find yourself going to bed, setting that consistent bedtime may have a positive effect on your circadian rhythm. 

#2 Add A Stress-Reducing Technique to Your Evening Routine

As part of your evening routine, do something that helps you relax. Drink a cup of herbal tea, diffuse some lavender essential oil, or curl up reading a good book. Unwinding with a stress-reducing technique is an important part of helping your mind and body get ready for bed. And an increase in cortisol, our stress hormone, is associated with increased weight gain. So, incorporating mindfulness into your evening routine could help you snooze away and support weight loss efforts. 

Looking for a guided meditation to add to your evening routine? Browse the FitOn meditation category for some sleep meditations that are sure to help you unwind as you prepare for a restful night’s sleep!

#3 Make Your Bedroom A Tech-Free Zone

Are you guilty of working from bed with the TV on in the background, all while scrolling through social media? We’ve all been there. But, this isn’t going to be the best environment for quality shut-eye. Instead, try to make your bedroom a tech-free zone and eliminate electronics and work-related things from your room. Having any sort of distraction that’s going to cause stress (from both dopamine stimulation and blue light) may make it difficult for you to sleep. 

Blue light has been found to delay the release of melatonin, making us feel more awake when we should be winding down for the day. It can also negatively affect our body’s circadian rhythm (aka our internal clock), getting us stuck in a poor sleep pattern. 

If you have to use electronics right up until bedtime, consider turning your phone on night mode. You can even download apps like Bluelight Filter to block the light that may be interfering with your sleep quality. 

#4 Create A Sleep Sanctuary

Think of your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary. It should be a place free from stress and outside stimulation — a place you go to relax. 

Try these tips:

  • Cool it down: research suggests a temperature of roughly 65 degrees F is best.
  • Make it clutter-free: think of a cluttered space as a cluttered mind!
  • Quiet the noise: swap the Netflix (no bluelight, remember!) for the soothing sound of silence. Alternatively, try a sleep machine with calming white noise.  
  • Keep it dark: think minimal light exposure with lights out and even blackout curtains.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Sleep

#5 Plan For The Day Ahead

Do you experience racing thoughts at bedtime or have trouble quieting your mind? Planning for the day ahead may help. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common causes of insomnia, which are often exacerbated by overwhelming thoughts of the future or a busy to-do list. Before you go to bed, write a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish tomorrow. According to research, writing down a to-do list at bedtime may help aid in falling asleep. 

And to keep lingering thoughts at bay, keep a journal next to your bed. If any thoughts or feelings come up, do a “brain dump” and jot down them out of your head and into your journal!

Optimize Your Sleep Habits For Better Weight Loss Success 

If you feel like you’re doing all the right things but still not seeing the results you want, optimizing your sleep habits may be the missing link you need to supercharge your results. 

As you can see, there really is something to the whole lack of sleep weight gain connection. From a change in hormones to an increased desire to eat sugary foods, not getting enough shut-eye can definitely have an impact on weight loss efforts. 

Getting started with a healthy sleep routine is a great place to begin. Start slowly by implementing one small actionable step at a time, like turning off electronics an hour before bed and cozying up to a book or pouring yourself a sleep-supporting cup of chamomile tea. 

Quality sleep is essential for optimal health. So whether you are looking to support weight loss efforts, or just want to make changes to your sleep habits, taking the steps necessary to optimize your sleep is an amazing way to support overall health.