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Can Lack of Sleep Cause Rapid Weight Gain?

can lack of sleep cause weight gain
Does lack of sleep cause weight gain? In many cases, it can. Learn about why it happens and how you can get better sleep at night

According to recent research, not getting enough sleep may be linked to weight gain. But why does it happen? There may be a few reasons:

  • When you don't get as much sleep as you should, your body interprets this as stress and produces cortisol. This could cause your brain to crave high-fat, high-carb foods.
  • Lack of sleep also means your body is expending more energy to keep itself awake, which can lead you to eat more in response and have lower impulse control when it comes to junk foods.
  • Poor sleep can also slow down your metabolism, as well as disrupt the hormones in your brain that regulate hunger and tell you when it’s time to stop eating.

Many people, however, do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. In fact, 30% of adults sleep less than 6 hours most nights instead of the recommended 7-8 hours.

How can I sleep better at night?

When it comes to getting better sleep, the key is adopting a good night routine. Developing a routine that helps you wind down and signal to your body that it’s time to rest can help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep for longer. Examples of habits to include your routine are:

  • Taking a warm bath or shower
  • Changing into soft, breathable sleepwear (cotton or silk)
  • Using blackout curtains 
  • Wearing earplugs to minimize noise
  • Setting your room temperature to a comfortable level
  • Reducing screen time before bed (blue light emitted from your devices can decrease the release of melatonin, which is essential for sleep)
  • Prioritizing good hydration during the day and reducing liquid intake before bed
  • Refraining from caffeine in the late afternoon and early evening
  • Avoiding alcoholic drinks at night, which can hinder your REM sleep cycle
  • Minimizing naps during the day, since long naps can interfere with nighttime sleep

In addition to establishing a sleep routine, it’s important to set a sleeping schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. The body likes regularity, and training yourself to go to sleep at the same time each day will help your body naturally anticipate sleep. Set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you that in 30 minutes, you must wrap up your day and head to bed.

Unfortunately, sleep problems are not always easy to solve. If you still have trouble sleeping, speak to your doctor about whether you may have a sleep disorder that could benefit from treatment. 

Does quitting smoking contribute to weight gain?

In addition to not getting enough sleep, other lifestyle factors can contribute to weight gain.

For example, an initial side effect of quitting smoking is weight gain, especially in the first few months. Weight gain after smoking cessation is attributed to various factors, including:

  • Inducing increased appetite (nicotine is an appetite suppressant)
  • Decreased metabolism (smoking increases metabolism slightly)
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Increased lipoprotein lipase activity, which affects fat transportation in the body (smoking burns calories up to 200 calories a day in a heavy smoker)

On average, about 80% of people who quit smoking tend to gain about 22 pounds despite calorie intake remaining the same. However, quitting smoking is still a good decision for long-term health. While obesity is bad, smoking is worse.

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