How Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight, and 7 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep

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Are you doing all-the-right-things but still feel like you’re not losing weight?

Do you depend on coffee to wake up in the mornings?

Do you feel sluggish and foggy because you’re not sleeping well?

Everybody knows that sleep is important, but just how important is it? Well, without adequate sleep you could not only be eating more than you think you are, but you may also be gaining weight without necessarily eating more, reducing your overall health and wellbeing and disrupting your cognitive abilities.

One study found that by simply enhancing your sleep quality you can actually improve your body composition (lose body fat and keep muscle) without even exercising!!!![1]

You can read that again! Simply getting adequate sleep can help you lose fat and keep muscle, without doing anything else. No diet, no exercise, just sleep.

Yet another study compared body composition (body fat to lean body mass) changes in a group strength training twice a week without changing their sleep and compared them to another group who also trained twice a week in addition to getting good quality sleep over 10 weeks.  The group who had optimised sleep lost 1.8 kg of body fat vs. 0.8 kg of body fat lost in the “less-than-ideal” sleep group who were also on a diet (the sleep optimised group were eating above their maintenance amount).

Not only did they lose more body fat while eating more, they also gained more lean body mass, 1.7 kg to the 1.3 kg gained by the group with poorer sleep.[2]

Another study found that people whose sleep was reduced to 6 hours vs. 8 hours ate 20% more Calories. This was after only 4 days of less sleep. [3] 

That’s a huge amount when you consider many “diets” reduce your Caloric maintenance intake by about 20%. And when you consider that this effect is not even a conscious decision, simply getting adequate sleep is just like being on a diet, without even knowing it! 

There are none of the negative psychological effects that being on a diet may evoke. No feelings of restriction, no list of foods that are off limits, no hunger pangs, no monitoring or weight tracking, nothing that resembles a “dieting mindset”.

Not having good sleep also reduces the amount of energy your body burns to simply exist, your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the energy required to breathe, digest, etc., basically the amount of energy needed to keep you alive if you were bed-ridden. This does not include the additional amount of energy used for exercise and other activities like waving your hands when you talk. [4]

In addition to the physical benefits for your physique, sleep optimisation improves a whole host of other factors. For one you feel more energised, which means you are able to not only do more but what you do will likely be higher quality as well. Cognitive performance is linked to sleep. [5] This could mean having more energy to play with your kids after work, or going for a walk, preparing healthy meals for the week, tackling some of that never ending to do list, the benefits of better sleep are endless really. Not only for you, but with your improved mood those around you will also benefit ;).

Poor sleep quality is linked to higher levels of overall inflammation in the body in healthy adults.[5] Chronic inflammation is linked to a host of preventable diseases.

Not having enough quality sleep can also lead to more stress, and the effects of chronic stress on health and wellness are another topic on their own.

So how much sleep do you need to reap all of these amazing benefits? That depends, but for most healthy adults this is around 8 hours.

Now for those of you who are freaking out and wondering how on earth you are going to sleep for 8 hours, never mind fitting 8 hours into your busy schedule when you know you work best on 5 hours of sleep, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. 

Here are 7 helpful tips on how to get the best sleep

1) Create a sleep routine. About 45 minutes before your optimal bedtime (think 8 hours before you need to wake up) start to wind down. Relax and de-stress, stop doing any work, prepare yourself for the deep, deep, wonderful sleep that you are about to embark on.

2) Reduce your exposure to light, especially blue light from electronic devices. You can do this by turning off the lights, wearing blue blocking glasses, lighting candles for light (who knows this might help out in other areas of your life as well ;).

3) Make sure your room is dark, consider getting blackout blinds if you don’t already have them. Light is a very strong stimulus indicating that it’s time to wake up so the darker your sleeping environment the better the chances you will have better sleep.

4) Make sure your sleeping area is not too hot, in fact it should be cool. Our breathing rate and body systems slow down when we’re sleeping and we can actually be woken up if it’s too hot. 

5) Try to get exposure to sunlight in the mornings. This is related to points 2 and 3.  Natural sunlight signals to your body that it’s time to wake up. Not only that but sunlight helps you to produce vitamin D, which many, many people are deficient in.

6) Reduce the amount of fluids you drink a few hours before bed, especially if you wake up more than once to use the bathroom during sleep. If you are regularly woken up to use the bathroom it’s a sign you may need to reduce your fluid intake close to bedtime.  You may need to compensate by consuming more liquids in the daytime to stay adequately hydrated.

7) Reduce your caffeine intake, especially if you consume caffeine in the afternoons or evenings (assuming you regularly sleep at night). Although many of us “aren’t effected by caffeine”, the effects are not as noticeable.  Even though you may not have any issues falling asleep you may be reducing the amount of deep sleep you are getting from the caffeine.


Sleep is very important and arguably one of the easier things you can do to improve your overall health, happiness and figure.


1 Amstrup AK, Sikjaer T, Pedersen SB, Heickendorff L, Mosekilde L, Rejnmark L. Reduced fat mass and increased lean mass in response to 1 year of melatonin treatment in postmenopausal women: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2016 Mar;84(3):342-7. doi: 10.1111/cen.12942. Epub 2015 Oct 8. PMID: 26352863.

2 Jåbekk P, Jensen RM, Sandell MB, Haugen E, Katralen LM, Bjorvatn B. A randomized controlled pilot trial of sleep health education on body composition changes following 10 weeks’ resistance exercise. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2020 May;60(5):743-748. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.20.10136-1. Epub 2020 Mar 4. PMID: 32141273.

3 Bosy-Westphal A, Hinrichs S, Jauch-Chara K, Hitze B, Later W, Wilms B, Settler U, Peters A, Kiosz D, Muller MJ. Influence of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance and insulin sensitivity in healthy women. Obes Facts. 2008;1(5):266-73. doi: 10.1159/000158874. Epub 2008 Oct 23. PMID: 20054188; PMCID: PMC6515888.

4 Buxton OM, Cain SW, O’Connor SP, Porter JH, Duffy JF, Wang W, Czeisler CA, Shea SA. Adverse metabolic consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian disruption. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Apr 11;4(129):129ra43. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003200. PMID: 22496545; PMCID: PMC3678519.

5 Mullington JM, Simpson NS, Meier-Ewert HK, Haack M. Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct;24(5):775-84. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2010.08.014. PMID: 21112025; PMCID: PMC3548567.

6. Alhola P, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007;3(5):553-67. PMID: 19300585; PMCID: PMC2656292.