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Does Sleeping Late Make You Gain Weight?

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: July 9, 2020
Does Sleeping Late Make You Gain Weight?

Those who sleep late not only look tired, but they tend to gain weight also. According to a recent study, people who slept late snacked more and can gain around 2 pounds a week, despite decent levels of exercise. They were found to consume more calories with after-dinner snacks because they needed something to eat in order to stay active until late night. Switching to adequate sleeping patterns reduced their carbs and fat consumption and helped in shedding pounds. Read this oneHOWTO article to find out does sleeping late make you gain weight? It will help you consider all of your sleeping and dietary habits for the most holistic way to reduce weight gain.

You may also be interested in: How To Lose Weight While Sleeping

Reasons sleeping can make you overweight

Studies have shown a definite link between a lack of sleep and putting on weight[1]. However, there are many factors involved and it is not as simple as less sleep = more weight. The assertions made by studies in the area are there to highlight how a lack of sleep affects other factors and can lead to weight gain. These factors include:

  • Increased ghrelin: according to research, there is a close connection between lack of sleep and increased levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is also known as the hunger hormone which increases your appetite and makes you hungry. That is why people who do not sleep enough are often found to have a higher BMI. How long a person should sleep varies person to person, but according to experts, an average person should get at least 7 - 8 hours of sound sleep every night.
  • More calorific intake: sleeping late does not affect the number of calories a well-rested and a sleep-deprived individual burns. But people who sleep late stay sleepy throughout the day and end up eating around 300 more calories in 24 hours. Since you need only 3500 calories to add one pound to your body weight, you may gain weight over a short period of time.
  • More snacking: tired people find it harder to resist snacking. When you are tired and under-rested, you think that you are hungry and need food to get sufficient energy. When you are sleep deprived, your body produces higher levels of endocannabinoid. It is a lipid in your bloodstream that is responsible for making eating more enjoyable than normal.
  • Less exercise: when you sleep late, you wake up late in the morning and do not feel like exercising. The later you sleep, the more sleep deprived you will become and the more lethargic you will feel. When you don’t exercise, you will end up spending a sedentary life which can lead to gaining weight. This, combined with eating more, will clearly lead to weight gain over time. Sometimes, this condition may also lead to obesity which ultimately leads to myriad of other health related problems.
  • More carbohydrate consumption: sleep deprived people end up eating more, but according to a research, tired people often reach out for foods high in carbohydrates as well. High carb foods can give you a temporary release of pleasure hormones in your brain and this is what you want when you are tired. When you eat high carbohydrate food late in the night, your sleep pattern is affected and you end up eating late every day.
  • Affected fat cells: when you are deprived of sleep, your fat cells do not react properly to insulin. This is the hormone that regulates your energy storage. With this decreased reaction, you end up gaining weight and also potentially developing type 2 diabetes. Fat cells are responsible for removing lipids and fatty acids from your circulation system so that they do not cause any damage to your body tissues. When fat cells are not able to respond properly to insulin, lipids manage to enter your blood stream and lead to serious health complications.
  • Activated hypothalamus: hypothalamus is a part of your brain responsible for production of most hormones in your body, including the ones that regulate your hunger and sleep patterns. Orexin is a neuropeptide that is responsible for regulating your arousal, appetite and waking time. When you sleep late, your hypothalamus gets activated and produces more of orexin, telling your body that you are not full yet and you need to eat more.
Does Sleeping Late Make You Gain Weight? - Reasons sleeping can make you overweight

Decreased leptin: when you are tired, levels of leptin go down in your body. Leptin is released by fat cells and is responsible for suppressing your appetite and stimulating your energy expense. When there is less leptin in your body, you feel hungrier and end up eating more to gain weight.

Slowed metabolism: we have already discussed about how lack of sleep leads to diabetes, but according to studies, it also slows down your metabolism and makes you fat. Lack of sleep reduces your body’s capacity to perform even the basic metabolic functions These include processing and storage of your carbohydrates and regulation of hormone secretion. All the endocrine and metabolic changes resulting from sleep deprivation also trigger various signs of aging.

Increased cravings for junk food: sleeping late has direct impact on areas of your brain responsible for regulating your decision making process. As a result, you crave more for a hamburger than a box of fruits. Lack of sleep hampers the regions of your brain that make complex decisions and judgments, and you end up making more junk food choices than healthier ones.

Higher levels of stress hormone: several studies have been conducted that prove that you eat more than you feel stressed. When you sleep late, it puts lots of stress on your body as well as mind. This releases cortisol hormone which is responsible to causing stress. The steroid hormone of cortisol can make you feel hungrier and you end up gaining weight.

De-motivation to exercise and diet: when you sleep less at night, you feel sleepy during the day and you feel de-motivated to eat right and follow an exercise program.

Consumption of less healthy foods: according to studies, your sleep patterns have a direct impact on the food choices you make. When you sleep late, you drink less water and eat less of fruits and vegetables than those who normally and consistently sleep do. Tired and sleep deprived individuals eat less foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins.

Use of more carbonated drinks: when you sleep late, you need more energy to stay active. This is where you love to grab a glass of soda or worse. These drinks are laden with sugar and you end up consuming more junk food that leads to weight gain.

Disrupted circadian rhythm: those who sleep and wake up at the right time have the correct circadian rhythm. This means that they eat only when they are really hungry, they are able to keep their hunger pangs under control and they rarely get involved in emotional eating. People who sleep late have disrupted circadian rhythms. They tend to eat more sugar, less protein and more fatty foods. Most of the time, they eat due to taste and emotion rather than hunger.


Your lifestyle plays a significant role in weight management and sleep is a fundamental factor. When you sleep late, you need to eat more to stay energized. When you wake up late in the morning because you slept late the night before, you feel less motivated to exercise and eat healthily. When you are sleep deprived, you feel stressed and end up becoming the victim of stress eating. So, we can say that sleeping late can actually make you gain weight, at the very least indirectly.

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Does Sleeping Late Make You Gain Weight?