Sleep More = Lose Fat: Lack of Sleep Increases Appetite By 300 Calories A Day

Sleep More = Lose Fat: Lack of Sleep Increases Appetite By 300 Calories A Day

Have you ever noticed that after a night of short sleep you feel hungrier and more inclined to reach for unhealthy foods?

Research shows that when people are sleep deprived they eat more overall and consume more fat, notably saturated fat. The increase in hunger is significant: In one study, volunteers who got only four hours of sleep ate 300 extra calories compared to those who got 9 hours of rest. If sustained, this behavior would result in gaining more than two pounds of fat a month.

More bad news: Volunteers burned fewer calories over the course of the day when sleep deprived. Some studies show people are less active when exhausted, however, this wasn’t evident in this study. Rather, the drop in energy expenditure appeared to be due to a decrease in body temperature. Body temperature is a primary driver of metabolic rate, such that people with higher body temps are leaner and burn significantly more calories a day.

Be aware that this study is based on data gathered from individuals who suffered a single night of sleep deprivation. They weren’t chronically sleep deprived, as many people are. Association studies show sleep deprivation is closely inked to obesity.

Other factors that impact this connection include the fact that sleep deprivation increases risk taking, lowering our inhibitions so that we are more likely to eat junk food we’d rather avoid. Lack of sleep also raises the stress hormone cortisol and decreases our body’s ability to burn glucose, making us more likely to store energy as fat.

Take control of your sleep habits:

  • Establish a set bedtime
  • Avoid screens in the hour before bed
  • Put your phone on airplane mode overnight
  • Sleep in darkness
  • Stick to your sleep schedule even on weekends


St-Onge, M., et al. Short sleep duration increases energy intake but does not change energy expenditure in normal-weight individuals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011. 94, 410-416.