Sleep and weightloss

Over the past 4 months I have noticed that every single time I have a bad night’s sleep,  I struggle with my eating choices the next day; or I feel like snacking all day or I just don’t  feel full and I keep thinking of what else I want (need). Its unbelievable how out of control I feel.

I have always been a sleep health activist and promote getting  a good night’s sleep, in general, because I feel more productive and in control of my day. My personal favourite time is to sleep by 10:30pm (latest) and then I will naturally wake up at 4am. Most people need about 6-7 hours, but my ideal amount is about 5 hours. Since I am quite obsessive about sleep and the benefits of sleep health; I was (pleasantly) surprised to have discovered recently that good sleeping habits does in fact support; and is quite important for, weight loss. 

Lets be honest, obviously there are going to be, days where you don’t get to sleep early at night. Either it will be going out with friends for dinner, baby teething keeping you up all night, watching a late movie or some days you just feel like scrolling on Instagram looking at pics because all the kids and hubby are asleep and you get QT (bad habit…but moms know what I mean!)

Now that I am more highly aware of my eating habits and behaviour  (as part of my weight loss journey), I was quite shocked at how different I felt on the days where I had sleeping problems or less hours sleep than I normally do. 

What is happening?

Basically when you sleep too few hours a night, your body increases in the production of a hormone called Grehlin and it produces to little of a chemical called Leptin.

If you have too much grehlin, you feel hungrier. If you have too little leptin you don’t get a signal to your brain that you feel full. 

So if you are sleeping too little at night, you will tend to overeat the next day (!!)

Take your sleep seriously because if you don’t then it can seriously impact your weight loss journey.


I would suggest you have a bed time routine. You should plan your bed time, wind down, keep your sleeping space tidy and clutter free, have a shower and  light a lavender or vanilla candle in the bedroom. The scent will immediately calm you down and make your feel relaxed. 

You could also make yourself some chamomile tea, and stay away from caffeine after 7pm.

We all have a bad habit of constantly checking our phones; but at night, the blue light of the phone will signal to your brain to wake up and be alert ie. you cant fall asleep. You can turn off the blue light on certain phones or you can buy specific glasses to block the light.

You should also try to do exercise during the morning or in the afternoon. This will be beneficial in terms of your fitness, and will also contribute to having really good, restorative sleep.

But what if I slept too little and I’m awake and hungry!!!?

When this happens, what I do now is I will immediately fill jugs or bottles of water and put it all around the house to make it easily accessible. I cut up fruit and prepare low carb snacks like popcorn. Then I will try to drink as much water as  I can before I start snacking. This “method” really helps because the water fills you up before you start on your all-day snack fest.

I will also try to find an hour or two in the day to take a nap to catch up on sleep. I know this is not really possible if you work or have other kids at home, but it really will help if you can get in another hour of sleep.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Bear in mind its just one day and even if you fall off the wagon and make some bad food choices, you can just make sure you get to bed on time that night and start fresh the next day.


Siham Arieff
Siham Arieff

Siham is a wellness writer, stroke survivor, mom of 3 and coffee lover on a health and fitness journey who recently relocated back home to Cape Town, South Africa.

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