Can Sleep Cause Weight Gain?

Here are 7 Mistakes You May Be Making While You Snooze

Most weight conscious individuals understand how a poor diet and/or a sedentary lifestyle can cause weight gain. What most people don’t know, however, is that sleep can also contribute to weight gain. How? Let’s look at seven mistakes you could be making that are leading to unnecessary weight gain.

Late Dinners and Pre-bed Snacks

Snacking can be a great way to relax and unwind before falling asleep, but this late night indulging could be getting in the way of healthy, satisfying sleep. Eating can raise your insulin levels. Sleeping with heightened insulin levels can interfere with the production of melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycles) and a growth hormone necessary to boost your body’s cells. To avoid interrupted sleep from eating late, try to avoid foods three hours prior to your bedtime—and yes, this includes snacks!

Light Exposure

If you are afraid of the dark, it is time to grow up. Even the slightest exposure to light can interfere with sleep and cause weight gain. Before turning in for the night, make sure all lights in your room are turned off and the curtains are shut. It may not seem like a big deal, but even the light from a street lamp outside your window can interrupt the release of melatonin and growth hormones. Lights in the bedroom can also increase the production of cortisol, a hormone connected to increased weight gain in your abdomen. To ensure you avoid this excess weight gain, turn your cell phone and all electronics off an hour before lights out.   

Drinking Late

While drinking water can help with weight loss, it can also hinder weight loss and instead be responsible for weight gain. How? Hydrating and drinking plenty of water during the day is important, but as it nears bedtime, it is more important to put the water down. Drinking too much before bedtime can cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night to use the bathroom. This disturbance in sleep can hinder your natural sleep patterns and cause weight gain. A disturbance in sleep patterns has even been linked to obesity. To ensure you get a full night’s rest without a bathroom run, stop drinking two hours before bedtime.

Late Night Exercise

You may be wondering just how exercise can actually lead to weight gain. This issue isn’t necessarily with working out, but instead the problem arises when you work out too late at night. Exercising causes your body temperature to rise and in turn, curb the release of melatonin. Exercising is also linked to the release of hormones stimulated by activity such as cortisol and dopamine. The best time to exercise is in the morning, but if you must work out at night, make sure you do so no later than three hours before bed.

Late Night Electronics

This is very similar to the need to sleep in complete darkness. While reading a book on your tablet or watching a movie may seem like a great way to relax and unwind before bed, it can actually disrupt your sleep. Electronic gadgets such as smart phones, TVs, and laptops are known to stimulate cortisol and dopamine and we should all know by now the negative impact these hormones can have on a restful night’s sleep.

Warm Bedroom Temperatures

Remember why late night exercise is not conducive to a good nights sleep? Keeping your bedroom too warm can have a similar effect. In order for your body to optimally release melatonin and growth hormones while burning fat in the process, your body must remain cool. If your room is warm, your body’s temperature will become elevated and you will not sleep as well. Instead, make sure the environment in which you sleep is kept around 70 Fahrenheit

Clothes vs. No Clothes

Have you ever been told by one of your grandparents or maybe even your parents that it is healthier to sleep in the nude? While this may seem like an odd recommendation from a family member, they are correct. No matter what type of clothes you may be wearing to bed, if they are tight or heavy, the clothing is most likely uncomfortable and can raise your body temperature. If you are uncomfortable sleeping in your birthday suit, try to wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.

Dr. Bennett
Acupuncturist and Functional Medicine, Dr. Strefanie M. Bennett, LAc, PhD

About Acupuncturist Dr. Stefanie M. Bennett, LAc, Ph.D. – Holds both a master and one of the few in the area with a doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, plus two diplomats. She has completed additional training in functional medicine, fertility, herbal medicine, and applied clinical nutrition. She has been practicing in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach for over 13 years. Dr. Bennett also serves many people from Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Tustin and Orange County. She can be reached at 714-962-5031 and new patients are welcome.

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