Lack of sleep each night has been linked with weight gain. Its crucial that we don’t ignore the importance of sleep – focusing on those work deadlines or binge watching Netflix!

Here’s why you should start paying attention to your sleep patterns!

It has been found that those who are not getting enough sleep eat twice as much fat, and more than 300 extra calories the next day compared to those in good sleeping patterns.

Some other ways that lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain include:

  • Increased level of your hunger hormone which means increased appetite
  • Increased cravings for high carbohydrate and high calorie foods (think sugars and fat)
  • Tiredness and less energy which can lead to poor choices when we are deciding what to eat. We have less resilience to sticking with eating pattern changes we may have made.
  • Stress hormones can rise which has a negative impact on body weight.

Luckily, there are some things we can do to easily improve the quality and quantity of our sleep.

What we eat

A high-quality diet including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and fish has a positive effect on stress hormones,which help to promote deeper sleep. Also eating low glycemic index carbohydrates include wholegrain foods such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and legumes. Some foods have been shown to promote sleep. Kiwi, walnuts, greek yoghurt are proven to aid sleep. How about a kiwi fruit salad with some chopped walnuts and greek yoghurt about an hour before you go to bed.

Watch or reduce your alcohol intakes

Although alcohol intake may make us feel sleepy, drowsy or more relaxed it actually has a negative effect on sleep quality! It disrupts the natural sleep and wake cycle called the circadian rhythm and blocks you from entering the deep and restorative REM sleep.

Keep on moving

Exercise can improve both the quality of sleep and how long you sleep for, by reducing stress and tiring you out! It’s important to get the timing of physical activity right, so you aren’t sweating it out and elevating your heart rate just before bed as the hormones released after exercising can make you feel awake – so try to incorporate your movement well before bedtime if you can.  

Sharon Madigan RD, PhD, FFSEM (Hons)


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