The Forgotten Key to Successful Weight Loss

by | Last updated Jan 11, 2024 | Obesity & Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight, sleep! An inadequate amount of sleep, interrupted sleep, and irregular sleep–each can make us more vulnerable to obesity, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. How?

Sleep deprivation makes appetite control more difficult. Partially sleep-deprived individuals have significantly lower levels of leptin (reduces appetite). But they also have higher levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin so consequently there’s an increase of hunger and appetite. Ghrelin not only increases appetite, it lowers energy expenditure as well.

Even in a healthy young man, sleep restriction leads to increased activation of brain regions sensitive to food stimuli. In other words, reduced sleep may lead to greater propensity to overeat. In normal weight individuals, partial sleep deprivation increases the brain’s response to unhealthy food. Another study found that obese women had lower sleep efficiency, ate more quickly, and spent more time eating and sleeping during the daytime hours than normal-weight women.

MRI studies demonstrate that sleep deficiency significantly decreases activity in the areas of the frontal cortex and the insular cortex that help us control appetite. Sleep deficiency also increases activity in other parts of the brain that make us crave junk food and high calorie foods.

Sleep deprivation, irregular schedules, and shift work–all can interfere with anti-obesity and the weight reducing effect of the hormone melatonin. Exposure to light at night interferes with quality of sleep and melatonin production. Deep sleep increases the production of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. Growth hormone not only improves protein synthesis in the brain, muscles, and joints, but promotes the burning of fats.

Another point to consider if you are obese: You are already at risk for developing prediabetes and diabetes—if you don’t already have one or the other. Too little sleep impairs the ability of the cells to dispose of glucose effectively and consequently increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. One study found that getting only 4 nights of 4.5 hours of sleep in healthy young men reduced the cells’ ability to respond to insulin by 16% as compared to when the participants got a full night of sleep. The ability of fat cells to respond to insulin was worse – it dropped to 30%. So, four days of partial sleep deprivation metabolically ages a person the equivalent of ten years or more. Sleep deprivation reduces the ability of the body to dispose of glucose efficiently.

Being short on sleep fuels any inflammatory problems lurking in the body. Obesity triggers inflammation and if diabetes or even pre-diabetes are present, adverse complications will eventually follow.

To recap: If you don’t get your sleep, you will be more prone to overeat and eat unhealthful foods.

Regular Hours, Please!

Sleep restriction often means more calories consumed, even in healthy, non-obese individuals. When sleep and eating are not properly aligned with the body’s circadian rhythm, there is a disruption in the regulation of appetite and metabolism which often leads to weight gain. One study showed that people who go to bed late and sleep late also eat more calories in the evening and consume twice as much fast food. They also eat half as many fruits and vegetables as people who go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.

Both insulin resistance and decreased beta-cell function precede and are also characteristic of type 2 diabetes. Biological clocks are governed by the light and darkness cycling that occurs with the rotation of the earth. They regulate hormones and enzymes involved in the body’s metabolism. Scientists have now discovered that the pancreas has its own molecular clock. And, endocrine cells in diabetic- prone and diabetic individuals can indeed be sensitive to disturbances in their circadian (24 hour) rhythm.


Getting an adequate amount of sleep and cultivating a regular schedule could be as important as a good diet and physical exercise in controlling appetite and prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Losing weight, especially belly fat, will often improve the quality of sleep in overweight and obese persons.

For more information on scientific validated natural remedies that help with weight loss, see the articles at this link. https://wildwoodhealth.com/blog/category/obesity-weight-loss/



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