Sleep More to Lose More

October 30, 2009 · 6 comments

This is a guest post by Dr. Kal from Dr. Kal’s Weight Loss Tips.

Sleep Like a Baby
Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: peasap

After reading about John’s recent diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and his new Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine, I thought about how hard he is going to have to work to cure his OSA. One of the only ways to cure OSA is to lose weight. However, to lose weight you must get a good night sleep. Obviously, getting a good night sleep is difficult when you have OSA.

Weight Loss

The old weight loss equation was simple. If you wanted to lose weight, all you would have to do is consume fewer calories and burn more calories. Unfortunately, 98 percent of Americans, who tried to lose weight and keep it off, were unable to do so with that equation.

My new weight loss equation is a little more complex, but still simple. If you want to lose weight and keep it off you must:

  • Eat less
  • Move more
  • Stress less
  • Sleep more


63% of Americans sleep fewer than 7 hours every night. That statistic is surprisingly similar to the stat that 67% of Americans are either overweight or obese.

Obviously, sleep deprivation is not the only factor in the United States’ obesity epidemic, but it is a significant contributor. Sleep deprivation causes weight gain and inhibits weight loss. Lack of sleep does this by:

  • Creating imbalances with your hormones
  • Increasing your stress levels
  • Slowing your metabolism
  • Decreasing your energy levels
  • Increasing the time you have available to eat

Hormonal Imbalances

Lack of sleep creates imbalances in hormones that are essential to obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight.

Sleep deprivation increases your levels of:

  • Ghrelin – One of the hormones that increases your appetite
  • Cortisol – One of the hormones that signals stress

Sleep deprivation also decreases your levels of:

  • Leptin – One of the hormones that decreases your appetite
  • Growth hormone – One of the hormones that encourage fat burning and muscle growth
  • Serotonin and Dopamine – Two hormones that encourage the consumption of unhealthy carbohydrates

Sleep deprivation boosts your stress levels and increases your appetite for all foods especially unhealthy foods. Lack of sleep also discourages fat burning and muscle growth. Who knew that losing a few hours of ‘shut-eye’ could be so bad for you?

Stress and Energy

Lack of sleep causes fatigue. Fatigue increases stress levels. Increased stress levels causes overeating. Fatigue will also decrease the productivity of your work-outs. If you are tired, you will not work out.

Fatigue encourages you to eat more and work-out less. That is the anti-weight loss formula.


Lack of sleep slows your metabolism by preventing muscle growth and fat burning. This slowing of your metabolism will decrease your body’s ability to burn calories all day.

Sleep is essential to permanent weight loss. So, get your required seven to nine hours of sleep and achieve your weight loss goals.

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Gregg November 1, 2009 at 10:00 am

I’m sure the doctor’s suggestion that we get more sleep is good advice, but I can’t help but feel that it’s just another “magic bullet” that feeds the belief that we can lose weight without doing the hard work. I’ve gained weight twice, and now lost weight twice, and this time I’m committed to keeping it off. In all honesty, I don’ think you can lose weight and keep it off through more sleep, trendy diets, pills, or even exercise. I think you have to change the way you eat. This means less food and better food. Period. It’s hard if you really love to eat, and even harder if you really love to eat sugar, fat, or carbs, but that’s the reality.

Dr. Kal November 3, 2009 at 8:58 pm


I’m not sure if you read the entire post. I mention that there are 4 keys to permanent weight loss. One of these keys is getting 7 - 9 hours of sleep.

In and of it self, adequate sleep will not create significant weight loss. However, it should be apart of any comprehensive weight loss plan.

I do agree with you though. What you eat and how much you eat are still the most important aspects. But do not neglect stress and sleep.

Joanne November 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm

No offence Dr Kal but I really loath these sort of themes for losing weight. I blogged about this as well as drink green tea and don’t do anything else and you will lose pounds a year. I am fighting for every ounce I lose and none of it comes from more sleep - I am a great sleeper or green tea (turns out it slows my already sluggish thyroid). There is nothing wrong with telling us more sleep helps but when we are told “all you have to do” is sleep more and magically the weight will drop is difficult for people that are constantly looking for that magic bullet.

Dr. Kal November 6, 2009 at 7:23 pm

No offence to you either Joanne, but if you read the post or my reply to Gregg’s comment above, you will see that I’m not pushing getting more sleep as a “magic bullet.” There are no weight loss “magic bullets.”

Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep should be a part of any comprehensive weight loss plan.

If you are getting your 7 to 9 hours of sleep, as you stated in your comment, then you may need to address your nutrition plan (diet), activity plan (exercise), or your stress levels.

I wish you the best in achieving your goals.

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