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The Link Between Sleep And Weight Loss: Key Facts You Must Know

According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, there is a significant link between sleep and weight loss that is often overlooked.


“Quality sleep is crucial for our well-being. During sleep, our bodies undergo important processes that regulate functions and promote good health. It allows for repair and restoration, supports brain function, boosts the immune system, and aids in stress management. Prioritising sleep can positively impact overall health and well-being,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“It influences hormonal balance, eating behaviours, energy levels, and cognitive processes. Its impact can also be profound regarding weight management.”

Sleep Duration Matters

One of the most crucial aspects of the sleep-weight loss connection is the duration of your sleep. Several studies have indicated that individuals who consistently get less than seven hours of sleep per night are more prone to gaining weight over some time. It is important to prioritise proper sleep patterns to maintain a healthy weight.


When you’re sleep-deprived, your body craves quick energy sources, often reaching for sugary snacks and high-carbohydrate foods. Sleep deprivation also impairs the brain’s judgment and decision-making abilities, making it more challenging to resist unhealthy food choices during waking hours. A study published in Nature Communications found that sleep-deprived individuals were likelier to consume more significant portions.

Quality Matters Too

It’s not just about the quantity of sleep; the quality of your sleep also plays a significant role in weight management. Poor sleep quality can disrupt the body’s hunger hormones, causing an increase in appetite and cravings, particularly for high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods. Ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating appetite, increases with sleep poor sleep quality, while leptin, which signals fullness, decreases.

Impact on Metabolism

Sleep is closely linked to metabolism. Metabolism is the chemical process by which the body turns the food and beverages we consume into the energy we require to thrive. Metabolism includes all of our collective activities, from breathing to exercising and all in between.

While certain activities, such as exercise, can temporarily boost metabolism, sleep cannot. During sleep, metabolism slows by roughly 15%, reaching its lowest point in the morning.

Many studies have demonstrated that sleep deprivation (whether caused by self-induction, insomnia, untreated sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders) can cause metabolic dysregulation.


Emotional Eating

Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating emotions and managing stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to experience mood swings, increased stress, and heightened emotions. These changes can lead to emotional eating, where food is used to cope with stress or negative emotions.

Emotional eating often involves indulging in comfort foods high in calories and low in nutritional value. This habit can contribute to weight gain and hinder your weight loss efforts.


Hormonal Changes

Sleep deprivation disrupts the body’s hormonal balance, affecting hunger and stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels, often seen in sleep-deprived individuals, can promote fat storage, particularly around the abdominal area. Inadequate sleep can also decrease growth hormone levels, which affects muscle growth and fat metabolism.

Strategies for Improving Sleep and Promoting Weight Loss


Now that we’ve established the critical link between sleep and weight loss, it’s essential to prioritise sleep as part of your weight management strategy. Here are some approaches to help you get better sleep and support your weight loss goals:


  • Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Try to sleep and wake up simultaneously every day, especially on weekends. Consistency aids in the regulation of your body’s internal clock.


  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine:  If you want to improve your sleep quality, we recommend incorporating calming pre-sleep rituals into your routine. These may include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practising relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. By consistently adopting these habits, you can create a peaceful, rejuvenating environment that fosters better sleep.


  • Optimises Your Sleep Environment: Ensure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Keep it dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.


  • Limit Screen Time: Avoid using electronic devices such as cellphones, tablets, and laptops at least an hour before bed. Screen blue light can disrupt your body’s generation of melatonin, a hormone that governs sleep.


  • Watch Your Diet: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These can disrupt your sleep patterns.
  • Stay Active: Regular physical exercise can significantly improve your sleep quality. Aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week is recommended. However, avoiding engaging in strenuous activities too close to bedtime is essential, as this can interfere with your ability to fall asleep quickly.


  • Manage Stress: To help you sleep better, try stress-reduction strategies like yoga, mindfulness meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.


  • Consider Professional Help: If you believe you have a sleep disorder, consult a healthcare practitioner or a sleep specialist.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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