Sleep and Weight Loss

Reading Matthew Walker’s book on sleep, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, brought light to the insomnia I dealt with for years. Sleep deprivation is debilitating and something I don’t want anyone else to go through. My hope is to shed light into the science behind sleep  and simplify it as best I can. Prioritize your sleep to enhance your sleep quality, and ultimately, your longevity and happiness. Today we focus on sleep and weight loss.

In 1942, 8% of the US population slept 6 or less hours/night. Today, nearly 25% sleep six or less hours per night. And for those focusing on weight loss, sleep may be one of your biggest culprits keeping you from your goals. 

Short Sleep

Walker refers to not sleeping enough as “short sleep.” Short sleep is typically less than seven hours of sleep per night. Your body naturally will want to hold onto fat when it’s sleep deprived as it’s very survival seems to be at risk. 

“Short” sleep will increase your hunger and appetite causing your satiation levels to decrease. In fact, studies show that your hormones controlling appetite are impacted to the tune of an excess of 300 calories per day. That can surely add up over time. 

Studies also show that sleeping less makes us less active. Speaking for myself, I am well aware that I am less motivated to exercise (among other things) and more inclined to overeat carbs when I haven’t slept well.

When dieting, one study showed that those sleeping 5 ½ hours per night lost 70% of weight from lean body mass. Conversely, 50% of weight loss came from fat for those sleeping 8 ½ hours. 

Children are not Excluded

Sleep and weight loss doesn’t just relate to adults. Another study conducted showed that 3-year olds sleeping only 10 ½ hours or less (vs. the suggested 12 hours), have a 45% increased risk of being obese by the age of seven.

Prioritize Your Sleep

Lack of proper sleep affects our hormones among a slew of other things. It is natural for your body to hold onto fat. If you are trying to get to a healthier weight, perhaps consider prioritizing your sleep. Please consider natural sleep solutions rather than quickly reverting to sleep medications. 


Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, Ph.D.*

*Matthew Walker is a professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at UC Berkeley, the Director of its Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and a former Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University. He has published over 100 scientific studies and has appeared on 60 MinutesNovaBBC News, and NPR’s Science Friday.

About Linda

Health educator, author, and speaker, Linda Curry, facilitates, “Attaining health one bite at a time,” through simplifying health and growth strategies with wisdom, compassion, acceptance and practicality. Linda offers customized health consultationscooking instruction and coaching as one-size does not fit all. Check out her Youtube Channel for recipes or her 13-week Get-Healthy Makeover Series.

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