How Sleep Debt May Affect Your Weight, Plus Sleep Tips

Though getting plenty of restful sleep is the cornerstone of well-being, it’s estimated that more than half of us are, to some degree, sleep deprived.

Lack of sleep is associated with mood issues, weight problems, poor concentration, memory difficulties, metabolic disorders, and may contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Sleep and Weight

Because sleep deprivation disrupts our metabolic processes, it can contribute to weight gain, and insulin resistance—two diabetes risk factors.

For instance, past research indicates the longer we sleep the smaller our waist is likely to be. One study showed that those who slept an average of six hours each night had waist measurements more than an inch larger than people sleeping nine hours per night.

In other studies, people short on sleep ate about 385 more calories daily than those who slept long and well. Even preschoolers who missed naps, and stayed up later than usual, ate 25 percent more sugar, and 26 percent more carbs than when getting adequate sleep.


Also, just 30 minutes of sleep debt every night for one year was shown to increase a person’s risk for insulin resistance up to 39 percent.

Sleep Tips By Sleep Type

Though lifestyle habits and stress are usually what keep us up at night, having a medical condition such as diabetes can also disturb our rest. It typically takes time to find a diet, exercise, and medication balance that allows more nights of sound slumber.

We can also look to the traditional practice of Ayurveda for some sleep suggestions. Ayurveda recognizes that people have different physical and mental attributes that influence their sleep style. So, to get a good night’s sleep we need to consider what type of sleeper we are:

    Strong. Those who typically fall asleep easily but feel sluggish upon waking are strong sleepers. These individuals often need help to get going in the morning, and they need adequate physical movement during the day to remain alert. Strong sleepers should avoid consuming calories after the evening meal since it may trigger insomnia.

    Light. Light sleepers have busy minds that tend to race much of the time. Though full of good ideas, they are also vulnerable to anxiety. Light sleepers frequently have difficulty falling asleep, and wake often during the night. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help, and avoiding all electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime is recommended. A meditation practice, and calming herbal remedies may promote better sleep as well.


    Variable. Variable sleepers are generally good sleepers. They tend to be organized and follow a regular routine; however, an emotional upset, or problems at work can disturb their rest. These individuals are often driven, and should avoid waiting for exhaustion to set in before turning down the covers. Some variable sleepers like to exercise late at night, but this revs their body up when it needs to settle down.

Sleep is a natural phenomenon that we may take for granted, yet for some individuals adequate sleep may be just as important for weight control as a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

Sources: Mercola; Suhas Ksshirsagar / Chopra Center
Photo credit: Bastian Greshake


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