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Women - Is There A Link Between Less Sleep And Weight Gain?
  • Arati Shah

  • 29, Apr. 2020

Women - Is There A Link Between Less Sleep And Weight Gain?

Women report more of sleeping problems than men do, especially those who are pregnant, those who have delivered babies, are peri menopausal and menopausal. Hormones have a large role to play in the sleep pattern of women through their life cycle. So much so that weight gain becomes associated with less sleep in many cases. Now, a weight loss program for women would be able to understand the various changes in a woman’s body and address the issue of weight gain. 

Poor sleep can cause memory loss, confusion, anxiety, problem concentrating, poor performance, decreased immunity along with problems like weight gain.  

How can lack of sleep bring about undesirable changes in weight? 

  1. A convincing explanation is that lack of sleep has an effect on the two hormones that regulate hunger – leptin and ghrelin. Leptin, a hormone found in the fat cells decreases appetite and tells the brain when one is full. Ghrelin, another hormone, increases appetite and tells the brain when its time to eat.With sleep deprivation, the leptin levels fall and signal the brain that there is starvation and there is a need for eating foodeven when there is no actual need. The body also stores calories thinking that the energy may be needed in the future. So, with leptin decrease there is a constant feeling of hunger and slowing down of the metabolism. Levels of ghrelin on the other hand are increased with lack of sleep and the body thinks it is hungry and needs calories. The body also stops utilizing the calories thinking that there could be a shortage of calories in the future. Thus, the hormones, leptin and ghrelin contribute to weight gain and obesity. 

  1. Also, a person in sleepdeprivationis often tempted to skip exercise which is an important factor in keeping the weight under check.  

  1. When a person is sleep deprived he / she does not make the best of choices due to an overtired brain and junk food becomes the comfort. So, if one is well rested the chances of not wanting to eat the junk food may be high. 

  1. When people are awake they may take in more calories, simply because they are awake and have more opportunities to eat.  


Skipping caffeine closer to bedtime, staying away from the white light an hour before bedtime, getting regular physical activity and napping in the afternoon only if necessary can help improve night sleep. Also, avoid rich and junk meals closer to bedtime. Pregnancy can also contribute to interrupted sleep due to changing hormone levels. Less sleep during pregnancy can not only contribute to negative pregnancy outcomes but also extra weight gain. Women under a prenatal nutrition program can consult with their nutritionist for tips on getting better sleep and eating healthy to avoid the unnecessary weight gain.