November 7, 2019 - Wellness

Does Lack of Sleep Contribute to Weight Gain?

From the Bear River Health Department

Researchers have studied the relationship between sleep and weight gain for years, and the connection can be traced back to your body’s hormones. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that help regulate your hunger, both affected by the amount of sleep you get each night.  

Ghrelin increases your appetite, while leptin decreases your appetite. When you become sleep deprived, your body typically produces more ghrelin and less leptin. This means lack of sleep can increase your appetite and may lead to overeating and weight gain.

However, several other factors affect your weight as well as your ghrelin and leptin levels. More research is needed to evaluate the complex relationship between hormones and weight gain. 

Lack of sleep may also contribute to weight gain because there are more “awake” hours within a 24-hour period—and more time to consume extra calories. Of course, sleeping too much isn’t good for your health either.  

So, how much sleep is the right amount for each of us? In 2015, an expert panel for the National Sleep Foundation published sleep duration recommendations for various ages after a rigorous review of scientific literature. Below is a summary of their recommendations. 

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours 
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours 
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours 
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours 
  • School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours 
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours 
  • Young adults (18-25): 7-9 hours 
  • Adults (26-64):  7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours 

Your sleep needs are also influenced by your health and lifestyle. So it’s important to consider the big picture when assessing your individual sleep requirements. For more information, visit sleepfoundation.org.