Long Read

Sleep and weight loss – What’s the connection?

World Sleep Day 

This World Sleep Day’s focus is to raise awareness about how regular, quality sleep can contribute to our future healthHave you ever wondered about the connection between sleep and body weight? Read on as we uncover why our sleeping patterns may be impacting weight loss. And if you’re an avid listener of whale music or constantly on the hunt for the next wonder-potion, we’ve included some top tips to help you catch those all-important Z’s. 

To start us off, we asked NHS Doctor, Dr Frankie Jackson-Spence to explain why sleep is so important to our wellbeing: 

Getting enough sleep is vital to your health. It not only improves brain power such as improving concentration and performance at work, but also our ability to interact with others and appropriately recognising social cues! Ever had a bad night’s sleep and felt snappy with your work colleagues or felt everyone is against you? That’s the power of sleep deprivation!” 

Why is regular sleep important? 

Having a bad night’s sleep now and then won’t do much harm to our health. Though, having inadequate sleep on the regular can impact our health in serious ways. To mention a few, regular poor-quality sleep can: 

  • Increase the risk of developing medical conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease 
  • Lead to mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression 
  • Lead to weight gain


How can sleep affect our weight? 

When we think about looking after our diet, sleep isn’t usually the first concern to spring to mind. Well, what if we told you that recent research estimates we eat, on average, an extra 400 calories per day when we’re sleep deprived [2]. That’s equal to one additional hearty meal per day!  

Biologically, this makes a lot of sense. Think about it. We use food as fuel. Calories = Energy. So, when we’re tired, in order to compensate for the lack of energy, we reach for calorie dense foods to give us a boost [3]. 

 In terms of managing our weight, shoddy snooze can make it a whole lot harder. Here’s how: a lack of sleep can lower our body’s levels of leptin (the fullness hormone), and increase its levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone), together, this can lead to overeating and weight gain [1].  

How can we have a better night’s sleep? 

Our bodies have an internal clock, it’s mechanism that tells your body when to perk up in the morning and when to unwind in the evening. We should treat our body’s internal clock as an emotional best friend. It’s a sensitive soul that needs a lot of care and attention. It’s impacted by both internal and environmental factors. The less we prioritise sleep and the more inconsistent our sleep schedule, the more likely we are to upset our body’s internal body clock, leading to confused brain and a twisty-turny night.  

Much like our dietary routine (breakfast, lunch and dinner), having the same sleep pattern everyday – even on weekends – helps our body find its natural rhythm, allowing us a more restful slumber.  

What are Dr Frankie’s tips of getting a decent night’s sleep? 

“Aim to get 8 hours of good quality sleep a night. To ensure you are actually asleep for 8 hours, aim to get into bed 30 mins before to have some downtime, switch of your phone/laptop/tv for an hour before bed and keep your bedroom cool for a better night’s sleep. Try not to watch tv in your room. If you feel like you’re not tired, get up and go to another room until you feel tired and then come back in. Keep your bedroom just for sleep.” 

Finallyhere are our top tips to help improve our sleep and restore our body’s sleep-wake cycle: 

  • Lights off, wind down – Melatonin is a light sensitive hormone. In dark atmospheres and during the night, more melatonin is produced, making us feel tired and ready for sleep. Bright lights in the evening inhibit the production of melatonin, which makes us feel more awake and is more likely to delay our ability to drift off to sleep. 
  • Have a set bedtime – Whether it’s a week night or weekend, keep your bedtime consistent. Find a sleep time that suits you and stick to it. You might not feel tired at first, but once your internal body clock falls back into its natural rhythm, catching the Zees will be a breeze. 
  • Have a set wake-up time – In the event of a terrible night’s sleep the night before, it may be tempting to have a lay in the following morning. Doing this puts us at greater risk of throwing off our sleep routine. Resist the urge to sleep in. Set your alarm to the same time every morning. Even on the weekend! That way, you’re more likely to feel tired and ready for bed when we’re supposed to. 
  • Have a light evening meal – Instead of filling up on a heavy, spicy, sweet or salty meal, try to opt for something light and easy on digestion. It’s best not to eat too close to bedtime, but a light snack is acceptable. 
  • Cut down on caffeine – When it comes to caffeine, different people have different tolerance levels. Some people can have 5 coffees a day and sleep like a baby. If you’re not having the most restful night’s sleep, it’s worth considering cutting back on caffeine and trying to have your last caffeinated drink at least 6 hours before you sleep. As a tasty alternative, why not try our caffeine-free BURST? 
  • Cut down on alcohol – Got a habit of reaching for a night cap? Many of us assume a glass of wine or two helps send us off to lala land. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Evidence shows that alcohol leads to poor sleep quality and sleep duration [5]. Need something to fill the night cap space? We’ve got just the tipple! Try our sweet and sophisticated BURST Mocktails. Yum!

Have you noticed your sleep improving since embarking on your exante journey? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with us on Instagram and share your experiences with our lovely exante Facebook community!

Sophie Elwood

Sophie Elwood

Writer and expert

Sophie is a Registered Associate Nutritionist, with a BSc (hons) Nutrition degree and background in working with patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Sophie is a dedicated foodie, with lots of experience in food and nutrition education.