How Sleep Affects Your Metabolism

Sleep is a huge factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Those who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight than those who get their full night’s rest. Which makes sense, I have coworkers who’ll come in exhausted after staying up to late and end up having half a dozen coffees and a litre and a half of Red Bull through the day! That amount of sugar, not good!



But there is a lot more to it than that, and it’s to do with your metabolism. Your metabolism is basically a measure of how your body burns calories and turns them into fuel. So a higher metabolism leads to weight loss because it means your body is burning calories faster to maintain itself so it burns away fat stores.


There are many chemical reactions which fall under Metabolism but there are two important hormones: Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone in fat cells signals “when they’re full” so they don’t need any more and Ghrelin is a hormone in the stomach that controls your appetite. When you start experiencing a lack of sleep these get sort of muddles up and the Ghrelin levels rise increasing your appetite while the Leptin levels fall signaling you need more and more fat reserves. So even if you’re physically full your stomach keeps telling the brain to send down more and more leading to weight gain.


Now when you’re actually asleep your metabolism goes through different cycles, when your in your deepest sleep state, REM sleep, your body temperature is lower and so is your metabolism. That’s why when you wake up too early you’re not hungry, it’s your body stuck in the wrong cycle and trying to catch up. But from there it can’t get back to normal very easily so you get stuck out of sync for the rest of the day.


So basically, while you’re sleeping your body basically loses it’s ability to maintain and balance your metabolism so it can become lower than it needs to be. Meanwhile your tired brain is telling you that you need as much energy as possible because your tired so you get cravings for sugary foods and complex carbohydrates. Combine this with the fatigue that stops you wanting to move around as much and it’s a vicious cycle!


So what can you do?

Well the most obvious answer is get a better sleep! Try everything from having a glass of water before bed, to making sure you sleep with proper sleep cycles. Check out The Dozy Owl for loads of great sleep tips.

If you absolutely have to give up a few hours of sleep just remember to be aware of the effects sleep has on your hunger and try to be strict about what you eat. Drink plenty of water and eat all your meals as usual, avoid snacking and absolutely avoid energy drinks. I’m sure a coffee or two won’t hurt just make sure you don’t go overboard.

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Kieran has long been a sport enthusiast who trained in Parkour for many years before coming around to running, he once completed a half marathon in the snow and now finds himself blogging about sleep at The Dozy Owl.

Latest posts by Kieran MacRae (see all)

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