The link between sleep and weight

Written by: Professor Franklin Joseph
Edited by: Carlota Pano

There is a complex relationship between insomnia and weight, with both influencing each other in various ways.


Here, Professor Franklin Joseph, renowned consultant physician in endocrinology, offers his expert insight on the connection between the two.



How insomnia can lead to weight gain


  • Hormonal imbalance: Sleep deprivation disrupts the production of leptin (satiety hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone), leading to increased hunger and cravings, especially for unhealthy foods.
  • Stress-induced eating: Poor sleep can exacerbate stress levels, which can trigger emotional eating and unhealthy food choices.
  • Increased cortisol: Chronic sleep deprivation increases cortisol, a stress hormone associated with fat storage, particularly around the abdomen.
  • Physical inactivity: Insomnia can lead to fatigue and decreased motivation to exercise, hindering calorie burning and weight management.


How insomnia can lead to weight loss


  • Reduced appetite: Some people with insomnia experience decreased appetite due to digestive issues or changes in taste perception.
  • Increased energy expenditure: In some cases, insomnia can lead to involuntary movement or fidgeting throughout the night, burning extra calories.
  • Stress on the body: Chronic sleep deprivation can put stress on the body, potentially causing unintentional weight loss due to reduced muscle mass or metabolic changes.


As well as this, there are additional factors to consider:

  • Underlying conditions: Certain medical conditions like depression or anxiety can influence both insomnia and weight management.
  • Medications: Some medications used for conditions like insomnia can have side effects like weight gain or weight loss.
  • Diet and exercise: Regardless of insomnia, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise routine is crucial for healthy weight management.


How to sleep better


Habits that can improve your sleep health include:

  • Address insomnia: Prioritise good sleep hygiene practices like setting a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and managing stress levels. If insomnia persists, consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment options.
  • Focus on healthy food choices: Opt for nutrient-rich and whole foods. Limit processed foods and sugary drinks.
  • Maintain regular exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, but avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime.
  • Manage stress: Practise techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to help reduce stress.
  • Seek help: Don't hesitate to seek professional help from a physician, registered dietitian, or therapist if you need support managing insomnia, weight, or related challenges.


It’s important to remember that the impact of insomnia on weight can vary depending on individual factors. Addressing sleep problems, focusing on healthy habits, and seeking professional guidance can help manage both insomnia and weight effectively. 



To schedule an appointment with Professor Franklin Joseph, head on over to his Top Doctors profile today.

By Professor Franklin Joseph
Endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism

Professor Franklin Joseph is a consultant physician in menopause and perimenopause, testosterone deficiency, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), Hashimoto's disease and hypothyroidism in the Wirral and Liverpool

In addition to the areas of expertise mentioned above, he is also highly experienced in diabetes, thyroid, weight loss, diseases of the pituitary and hypothalamus, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and internal medicine 

Professor Joseph has an impressive educational background, including a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), an MD, and both an MRCP and FRCP from the the Royal College of Physicians.

In diabetes, he specialises in the treatment and management of both type 1 and type 2. In endocrinology, Professor Joseph looks at pituitary disease, both under and overactive thyroid, adrenal reproductive disorders and metabolic disorders. With obesity, he specialises in the use of all new licensed medical treatments, including the anti-obesity medication Saxenda®.

Professor Joseph leads a successful clinical trial unit that has achieved the highest recruitment figures nationally on studies involving cutting edge therapies for diabetes and its complications. He regularly publishes in peer-reviewed journals.

He is visiting professor at the University of Chester and has been an honorary senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool. He has held various postions in prestigious private clinics, including Chief Medical Officer at DAM Health, and founder and Clinical Lead at Dr Frank's Weight Loss Clinic.

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