Can Insomnia Affect Your Weight Loss Goals?

Scientific research shows that the amount and quality of our sleep has a profound effect on the success of our weight loss goals. There definitely seems to be a correlation between the sleep disorder insomnia, which is difficulty sleeping, and difficulty losing weight.

How Insomnia Can Affect Your Weight Loss Goals

What we learn from this is that skipping meals as a strategy for fast weight loss could undermine both your metabolism and sleep patterns. If you’re skipping meals and wake up hungry in the middle of the night, it could be because of blood sugar levels dropping from not eating.

For the best performance in life we all need a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep each night. That 7-8 hours should be deep and restful sleep, and not a night of tossing and turning. When sleep is suffering, your body’s ability to perform at its highest levels suffers.

The consensus is that drinking caffeinated drinks after 2pm is affecting sleep during the night and causing insomnia. Eating heavy meals late in the evening, just before going to bed has about the same affect. Both scenarios keep you wired or your body working to digest food at night. The results is that you never get into a deep sleep pattern and all the natural weight loss tips in the world won’t help.

The end result of that is that even with 9-10 hours of poor sleep, you’re equally tired and exhausted the following day as if you had only got 5 hours of better sleep.

Hormones and Metabolism

It’s become clear in the last few years that the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin have a profound effect on weight loss and weight loss goals. However, these hormones also play into our sleep patterns as well.

The Leptin is for signaling us to quit eating when we’re full and helps us feel satisfied with a meal. Ghrelin signals us when our stomach is empty, energy is about to get low, and it’s time to eat.

Now we know that there’s a relationship between people with sleep deprivation and increased Ghrelin. With high levels of Ghrelin, we stay ready to eat all the time-making it easier to gain weight.

It’s also easier to gain weight when you are sleep deprived because not enough sleep means slower metabolism. Combining the fact that inadequate sleep and that inadequacy leading to more of the hormone Ghrelin, you can see how insomnia affects your weight.

Cortisol and Weight Gain

If that’s not enough, there’s another hormone called cortisol that’s released whenever you are stressed. The insomnia naturally leads to more stress, which leads to copious amounts of Cortisol entering your bloodstream. Both the increase of Cortisol and the stress can make you feel hungry and want to eat when you are full.

Now it’s easy to get even more stressed when you realize you are doing everything you can to lose weight, and nothing is happening. See what’s happening now? Your body is releasing even more Coritsol with the worry and negative self image-which is affecting your weight even more.

What To Do When Insomnia Is Curbing Your Weight Loss Goals?

  • Drink nothing with caffeine after 2pm. (I’ve found that cutting the caffeine after noon works best for me)
  • Instead of caffeine change to decaffeinated drinks. (Try drinking herbal teas in the afternoon and evenings. Chamomile tea is well thought of for relaxation and helping people with restful sleep)
  • Valerian is another herb taken as either a tea or capsule that helps with insomnia
  • 5-HTP is actually an amino acid that people are taking for insomnia, anxiety and obesity

These sleep remedies are available at health food stores, pharmacies, and Walmart.

More Tips for Countering Insomnia

  • Even though exercise is a must for weight loss, physical activity increases your energy levels, leaving you wide awake. With that in mind, avoid exercising late at night.
  • Take a long hot bath just prior to going to bed for complete relaxation of mind and body.
  • Turn off the TV, computer, and everything electronic at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Because we know that 1) sleep is important to health 2) insomnia makes it difficult to lose weight-it’s important enough to see a doctor if your lack of sleep continues.


You may be like I was when I first heard how lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, obesity, and difficulty in losing weight. It’s easy to be skeptical about that, but the science and research proves it out. Insomnia is definitely a problem when it comes to cutting calories, losing and managing weight.

Most of us have a hard time connecting the dots between low energy and sleep deprivation until a doctor forces the issue. What happens to so many overweight people is that they naturally turn to food, sugar, and more energy drinks to keep energy high enough to function.

Unfortunately, these are just part of a vicious cycle perpetuating the nasty effects of obesity. The more caffeine, sugar, and carbohydrates we consume, the less we sleep, and the harder it is to maintain a healthy weight.