Wellness Matters

The Impact of Sleep on Appetite and Weight

April 16, 2015

By: Heather Baron, RD
Registered Dietitian
Wesley Long Hospital

Did you know that the amount of sleep you get each night may impact your appetite, weight, and overall health? Research has shown that the amount and quality of our sleep could alter a hormone that controls appetite, called ghrelin, which can increase our appetite and craving for carbohydrates. This can lead to consuming extra calories and weight gain.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, despite the national average of only six and a half hours during the week. A large amount of research shows that insufficient sleep leads to eating more during the day (on average, an extra 250 calories per day that can cause two extra pounds of weight per month without proper exercise) and can also cause impaired glucose tolerance, which increases your risk for developing diabetes. In addition, not getting enough sleep causes your body to release stress hormones that increase your risk for heart disease.

Following are nine strategies for healthy sleep.
  • Consume caffeine earlier in the day. It can take six to eight hours for caffeine to get out of your system.
  • Do not exercise too late in the day. Try to work out at least three hours before you go to bed.
  • Get on a regular schedule by going to bed the same time every night, even on weekends.
  • Eat and drink only small amounts before bedtime to avoid indigestion and getting up to go to the bathroom during the night.
  • Avoid watching TV or being on your computer for at least one hour before you go to bed.
  • If you nap during the day, limit it to no more than 20 minutes and nap before 3 p.m.
  • Don’t lie awake in bed for longer than 20 minutes. If you still can’t sleep, go do something to calm you down like read a book until you feel sleepy.
  • Check with your doctor if have problems with your sleep. Your physician may be able to perform a sleep study to analyze your sleep patterns or give you medications to help you sleep. 
  • Try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night


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