Sleep and Weight Loss | Can you lose weight while sleeping?

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Young woman sleeping peacefully

The relationship between sleep and weight loss is pretty unclear to many, so let’s take a closer look at the possibility of losing weight while sleeping.

With the increase of obesity in the current world, the effort to find strategies and effective means of losing weight has intensified. That being the case, there have been various new trends introduced with promises of losing weight while you sleep.

As we all know, the most common strategy for losing weight is to either perform exercises or focus on diet. However, research shows a relationship between weight loss and sleep, stating that people on diet and exercise routines lose weight when they sleep. We now know that good sleep aids exercise and diet in promoting weight loss.

Research [1]National Library of Medicine: Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity has shown that when dieters reduce their sleep duration, their weight loss from fat drops significantly. Some sleep-deprived people might even feel hungrier and less satisfied after meals. 

In this article, you will learn how to lose weight while you sleep, the effect of excess weight on sleep quality, and the relationship between sleep and weight loss.

Let’s begin!

Are Sleep and Weight Loss Connected?

Like many, you must have wondered about the relationship between sleep and weight loss. While burning fat through just sleep isn’t possible, it is still an essential part of the weight loss process.

While sleeping, breathing, and sweating throughout the night, you can lose water, resulting in people weighing less in the morning. That being the case, you can also burn a few calories during your night’s sleep. 

However, water weight loss is more predominant than fat loss. Poor sleep doesn’t just make one cranky when they wake up; it can make one gain weight. 

Research [2]PubMed: Influence of sleep restriction on weight loss outcomes associated with caloric restriction shows that sleeping less than 8 hours every day may increase the stress hormone cortisol in your body, negatively affecting your microbes, which slows down metabolism. It is no wonder then that good sleep is good for weight loss.

Sleep reduction slows down fat loss while resulting in increased difficulty of weight loss. This occurs especially in cases where the person is on a restricted-calorie diet. Avoid this by sleeping early or even setting a sleep time to avoid sleep reduction.

You must get adequate sleep when on a diet or exercise routine to lose weight. One reason is that less sleep while on diets reduces weight loss and even fosters overeating of non-nutritious foods.

Another relationship between weight loss and sleep is sleep quality on weight regulation. Though exercise and diet alone are the bulk of weight-loss strategies, early research had suggested a relationship between the quantity and quality of sleep in the role of body weight regulation.

This can be seen in studies drawing a relationship between higher body mass index (BMI) and chronic sleep deprivation, as seen here [3]PubMed: Sleep and metabolism: an overview.

A further connection between sleep and weight loss is also seen in the effect of sleep deprivation on your body’s production of hunger hormones. According to research, the hormones (Ghrelin and Leptin) that regulate fullness and hunger can be imbalanced if you do not get adequate sleep.

Can Excess Weight Affect Sleep Quality?

Most people can easily recognize the negative health effects of being overweight or obese. However, does excess weight affect sleep quality or cause sleep problems? 

You would be surprised to know that excess weight or obesity has negative health effects on sleep quality, as seen in health problems like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Osteoarthritis, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and others.

With the increase in the number of people who do not exercise less globally, excess weight and obesity continue to grow. And one major way that it jeopardizes health is its effect on sleep quality.

Reports have shown that people having obesity usually report having trouble sleeping or insomnia than those with a healthy weight. Excess weight usually affects metabolism and sleep cycles resulting in deteriorating sleep quality. 

Excess weight clearly has some negative effects on sleep quality. There are some health conditions affecting sleep quality resulting from being overweight. Having one or more of these overweight-induced symptoms can affect sleep quality. They include:


Osteoarthritis can occur when additional weight is placed on the joints. This is a joint disorder usually caused by worn-down cartilage. The pain resulting from this condition negatively impacts sleep quality since most patients report worsening joint pain at night. This leads to disturbed sleep and even depression.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Excess weight is one cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a chronic condition that causes the blockage of the airways during sleep, causing disturbed, obstructed, and uneven breathing during sleep.  People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) usually encounter problems lying down, affecting their sleep quality.

Restless legs

Restless Legs Syndrome is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs at night, making it difficult to fall asleep easily. Often a person with RLS experiences a range of discomforting sensations in the legs like tingling, throbbing, crawling, mild pains, itching, and so on. Various causes usually include iron deficiency, pregnancy, and excess weight. 


Another way excess weight affects sleep quality is depression. Depression and sleep disorders form a dangerous vicious circle with the presence of one leading to the other. Individuals having depression often have insomnia or lack of sleep. People suffering from lack of sleep for any reason end up falling prey to depression sooner or later.

Can You Really Lose Weight While Sleeping?

Does sleep help you lose weight? In our current society, where stress is common and sleep rhythm is interrupted, proper sleep management might be one way to lose weight.

Though dieting and regular exercises are the most common weight loss methods, making changes to sleep patterns can ensure that you burn fat better. This idea might be difficult to believe for some, but recent and ongoing studies have shown that it is possible to lose weight while sleeping. Although, the primary mode of weight loss during sleep is water-weight loss. 

When sleeping, people lose water. For example, during a hot night, the body tends to find ways to cool its temperature through perspiration (sweating). This loss of water due to sweating can cause a reduction in body weight. 

Statistics from health practitioners indicate an 83% weight loss from water loss while sleeping. However, water loss can vary due to the metabolic rate of each individual. Also, there are certain routines that you need to perform before you can lose weight through sleeping. 

These routines that you can perform will be discussed below. 

Create a schedule for enough sleep

Getting started on weight loss through sleep can be a simple process. But, first, you need to optimize getting enough sleep through proper scheduling. 

With the constant activities and need for productivity in the current world, getting enough sleep by scheduling might sound difficult. However, doing so might be worth your time since studies have shown that having irregular sleep patterns affect sleep quality and thus weight loss.

Sleep in darker environments 

The hormone (melatonin) that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles can be affected by light. Therefore, sleeping with fluorescent light or LEDs can impair melatonin while also affecting metabolism regulation and increasing weight gain.

A study [4]National Institutes of Health: Cool Temperature Alters Human Fat and Metabolism conducted showed that keeping your room at 66 degrees for a single month can increase calorie burn in the body by 42% and boost metabolism by 10%.

Weight Loss and Sleep Tips For The Sleep-challenged

Many factors can affect weight loss and sleep. The following professional lifestyle and health tips can help your sleep well and indirectly promote weight loss. 

1. Daytime nap limit 

To get started on sleep and weight loss, you must avoid long daytime sleep. Sleeping for long hours during the day affects your night sleep. Thirty minutes to one-hour nap should be the limit during the day. Ensure that this is not done late in the day.

2. Stress management 

Stress affects sleep and weight loss. Ensure that you do not go to bed with your worries. Instead, try to solve them or make a plan to provide a solution to your problem the next day.

You can also perform various stress management activities like meditation, organization, yoga, delegation, and setting priorities.

3. Perform physical activities

Regularly performing physical activities can help you sleep more. Even when there is no access to the gym, performing exercises like squats can help. 

You can also perform sit-ups, planks, or walk around your neighborhood for some time. However, you mustn’t be too active at times close to your bedtime. As a rule avoid hard physical activities an hour or two before bedtime.

4. Have a sleep schedule 

The recommended hours of sleep for adults is 8 hours. Ensure that you do not miss out on the recommended sleep amount. 

Schedule your sleep and wake periods always to match. Differences in sleep cycles should be limited to the barest minimum since consistency strengthens the sleep-wake cycle.

5. Eat little at dinner

To maximize weight loss and sleep, eating little at dinner is advised. However, eating heavy dinners before bed can cause sleep discomfort.

The focus should be on a larger breakfast and a smaller dinner. Heavy dinners before bed require your digestive system to keep running for longer instead of slowing down for rest and recovery.


Of course, losing weight while sleeping is possible, and a major way is through water loss when sweating and breathing. However, irrespective of the fact that much fat cannot be burned while sleeping, sleep is a fundamental aspect of health.

Sleep and weight loss are connected since experiencing better sleep reduces the love for non-nutritious foods. So, do you want to lose more weight while exercising and dieting? Then, get a good sleeping schedule.

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