A lack of sleep making you put on weight?

By Dr Ernst
March 12, 2015

USA Today reported that people who are sleep-deprived eat close to 300 calories more a day than they do when they are well-rested, with ice cream being the food of choice when tired.

It’s no surprise then when an additional study also showed that you can double your chances of reaching your target weight if you get between 6-8 hours of sleep (AKA – average at least 7 hours/ night), which has been proven to be the target sleep amount. According to The Telegraph, the study found that people trying to lose at least 10 pounds were more likely to reach their goal if they had lower stress levels and got the right amount of sleep.

The combination of high stress and a lack of sleep likely leads to altered metabolism, because when you’re sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals satiety or fullness) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises. This is the perfect hormone cocktail for weight gain and health problems. Some experts even suggest that the correct amount of sleep is equivalent in value to proper nutrition and regular exercise when it comes to maintaining a healthy body.

By not getting a good night’s rest, you are putting yourself at risk for developing high blood sugar levels, accelerated aging, high blood pressure, depression and an increased risk of cancer.

Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 35 percent of Americans reported getting less than seven hours of sleep on average during a 24-hour period. A CDC analysis found that people who slept fewer than seven hours were more likely to report unintentionally falling asleep during the day including nodding off or falling asleep while driving. This is easily one of the most significant and potentially deadly risks of too little sleep, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year.

These reasons can range from being stressed to being addicted to late night reality T.V.  to taking lousy care of yourself to a range of health issues. Ultimately the conclusion is that the average person’s life is not in control. For those who just have “trouble sleeping” – there are numerous things you can do to sleep better.

  • Setting a bed time
  • Reading
  • Shutting off the TV an hour before bed
  • Cover your windows to achieve complete darkness
  • Cool the bedroom to 70 degrees or lower

If you are waking up tired and lethargic, try these little methods to improve sleep quality because something as little as a half an hour more of sleep could prove beneficial to your health.

However, the likely causes are stress, toxicity, neurological issues, a lack of fitness, no real well formulated time management strategy, and underlying health conditions that arise as a result of all or part of the above.

So how can we address the root issues of sleep deprivation?


Managing stress is generally about breaking some sort of cycle. You don’t eat well, it stresses you out. You don’t get exercise, your body deteriorates, you get stressed. You don’t feel good, but you have to work, you get stressed. You’ve just got to start somewhere. I would recommend starting with exercise. If you start getting physical, your body will crave healthier food, better sleep and you’ll (counterintuitive, I know) have more energy for work and personal commitments.


Take a good hard look at what you’re eating, breathing and drinking. Is your food processed and full of preservatives and added sugars? Do you eat factory farm meat (it’s full of hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and lots of other nasty stuff)? Is your home a bit older? You might have mold or radon or heavy metals in your walls, vents, etc. How about the water you drink? Try to avoid fluorinated tap water and try to avoid drinking out of plastic containers–it is often lined with a film that contains dioxins, a carcinogenic byproduct of petroleum-based product manufacturing.

Neurological issues

If you keep regular appointments with your chiropractor, you shouldn’t have any neurological issues. Regular chiropractic care increases blood flow in the nerve system, addresses back and neck pain and corrects misalignments of the spine called subluxations that, when left unattended, cause a stress response that can make it difficult to sleep.


This was somewhat addressed above when we talked about stress. But if you’re having trouble getting a fitness routine established, just start with baby steps. Go for a walk for twenty minutes, do ten push-ups or play a game of soccer with your child. Just do something, do it everyday and increase your efforts incrementally.

Time management strategy

Many books have been written on this topic. A simple Google search will yield millions of results. But for a quick idea of how to get started, consider these tips:

  1. Make a note (with pen and paper, or with a pocket recorder) of how you spend your time for one week. Go over it. I’m sure so much of what you need to do will become immediately clear to you. If you notice you’ve spent 20 hours watching TV, for example, that should be a wake-up call.
  2. Start prioritizing. As harsh as it may sound, ask yourself who matters more, what goals are more important and what can or should be eliminated.
  3. Take 30 minutes at the beginning of the day to plan what you want to do, how you want to do it and what you want to achieve.
  4. Take it easy on social media. Unless you’re in digital marketing, it’s a time black hole with no real benefit beyond the occasional tool to communicate with people whose phone number or email you’ve lost.

Implementing even a percentage of these changes in your life will help you get some sleep and, ultimately, help you lose weight and become a healthier, happier person.

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