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Evidence Based

7 Ways You Can Actually Gain Weight In Your Sleep! (+How To Fix)

Written by Liz Brown

If you struggle to lose weight, poor sleep habits may be to blame! Discover which sleep habits are hurting your progress and how you can fix it!

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Sleep and weight gain… what’s the connection? While many people believe that weight gain is reserved for those who don’t exercise regularly and have poor eating habits, there is one surprising factor that can prevent anyone from achieving their ideal weight… and that’s sleep. Without getting proper Zzz’s, you can pretty much kiss the dream of being able to lose belly fat while you sleep goodbye. In fact, poor quality sleep will actually cause you to pack on pounds despite how hard and frequently you exercise or eat healthy!

Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center at the University of Chicago, states, “There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain” [1]. Unfortunately, there are countless sleep mistakes we make every single night that affect our quality of sleep without us even realizing it…

When it comes to sleep and weight gain, here are the 7 sleep mistakes you don’t know you’re making that prevent weight loss, AND how to fix them!

Woman sleeping with an eye mask on

1. Caffeinated Late-Night Snacking

Caffeine intake can significantly affect your sleep patterns. Caffeine is a stimulant that triggers alertness but in moderate doses can block sleep neurotransmitters causing insomnia. Refined sugars found in many caffeinated beverages and snacks can stress the organs that are in responsible for hormone regulation — causing you to wake up frequently throughout the night as your hormone levels fluctuate.

A study conducted by the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Department of Integrative Physiology Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado found that caffeine can actually delay the timing of your body clock resulting in a total reduction of deep sleep that you get [2]!  Additionally, another study found that consuming caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime reduces your total sleep time by one hour [3].

So, next time the waiter at the restaurant asks if you’d like any coffee or chocolate after your dinner, opt for the SkinnyFit solution instead!

Solution:

Snack on foods that contain tryptophan and other essential amino acids that increase your production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone is often associated with regulating sleep. This Milk and Honey recipe is a perfect bedtime elixir to promote deeper sleep and prolongs the detoxification process 24/7.

2. Trying To Catch Up On Sleep

Sleep debt results from chronic lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation [4].

Sleep debt is calculated based on the average number of hours of sleep you need each night (based on your age) subtracted from the number of hours you actually get. For example, if you need 7 hours of sleep each night (based on your age) and you are only getting 5 hours of sleep each night, your sleep debt would be 2 hours each night.

Now, sleep debt is calculated on an annual scale, so at the end of one year you would have missed out on 730 hours of sleep annually if you were to only get 5 hours of sleep per night. It’s a common misconception to think one can simply “catch up on sleep” by oversleeping some nights to compensate for lost sleep on a previous night but unfortunately, that is just a myth.

Solution:

If you have trouble sleeping, try some bedtime yoga to promote deeper sleep. These 10 yoga poses can be done in bed and will take less than 10 minutes to complete depending on how long you choose to hold your postures.

sleep and weight gain

3. Sleeping With Your Fur Babies

According to a survey by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, 53% of people who sleep with their pets report that their animals disturb their sleep [5]. Animals tend to have different needs than humans when it comes to sleep. Their daily activities put them on a different sleeping schedule which might inspire a midnight play session or chest pounce you while you’re trying to catch some Zzz’s.

Solution:

As difficult as it may be for some of you, keeping your pets in a different room is the best way to ensure that you are getting optimal amounts of sleep.

4. Frequenting The Snooze Button

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “The brain cycles through five distinct phases during sleep: stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep makes up about 25% of your sleep cycle and first occurs about 70 to 90 minutes after you fall asleep. Because your sleep cycle repeats, you enter REM sleep several times during the night” [6].

A person who undergoes 6 hours of undisturbed sleep will actually feel more rested than someone who has had 8-10 hours of disrupted sleep. This is due to the fact that undisturbed sleep allows you to complete multiple REM cycles whereas a disrupted night’s sleep will make it difficult to complete one REM cycle.

So if you are getting undisturbed sleep throughout the night, hitting the snooze button is preventing you from achieving proper REM sleep, resulting in fatigue throughout the day.

Solution:

Don’t waste time setting your alarm at an unrealistic time and then snooze for an additional 30 minutes. Set your alarm for when you actually need to get up. Doing this regularly will help regulate your sleep patterns and hopefully increase the number of REM cycles you get each night.

laying in bed hitting snooze button

5. Having A “Nightcap”

Despite popular belief that alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, it actually reduces the number of REM cycles you get each night. These disruptions may cause daytime drowsiness that affects your cravings throughout the day.

Solution:

Try to avoid drinking alcohol before you go to bed. Instead, replace your nighttime beverage with ZzzTox, SkinnyFit’s caffeine-free detox blend! It helps to relax your mind and body for a better night’s rest. Calm bloating, rid toxins, and get ready for the best sleep ever!

6. Using Technology Before Bed

As hard as it may be to step away from your gadgets, it’s best to avoid them before going to bed. The blue light projected by the screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrains the production of melatonin making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. They also stimulate your brain keeping you alert. The more stimuli your brain gets before you fall asleep, the harder it will be for you to relax and unwind.

Solution:

Try reading a printed book, yes, a real paperback book! That means, no eBooks or kindles! Giving yourself a tech curfew will help you keep the technology out of the bedroom and possibly create better nighttime routines.

7. Leaving The TV On

Nearly two-thirds of people fall asleep with the TV on! I’m sure many of you use it simply as background noise or it’s a habit you’ve had since you were a child, but watching television before bed encourages you to stay up later, over-stimulates your brain, and reduces your level of melatonin.

Solution:

Try keeping TVs out of the bedroom or listen to the radio as you fall asleep as an alternative.

girl sitting on couch drinking teaThe Bottom Line: Sleep & Weight Gain 

Improving your quality of sleep will help your body recover and get the rest it needs to perform optimally. It will also help you make healthier decisions throughout the day allowing you to lose belly fat while you sleep! By fixing these sleep mistakes you can expect to have more energy throughout the day, better focus and clarity, less “foggy brain”, and better eating habits. If you struggle getting up in the morning and getting over that “morning fog”, try this easy bulletproof collagen coffee recipe to boost energy and burn fat!

About The Author

Liz Brown

Fitness & Nutrition Expert (CPT., FNS.)

Liz is a health & wellness expert, writer, and editor with over a decade of experience in the fitness & nutrition industry. She emphasizes research and simplifies complex topics to help make healthy living simple and sustainable. When she isn't researching and writing, she's creating delicious recipes, DIYs, and sharing her home projects on her blog and social media (@lizlovery)

  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer(since 2012)
  • NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (since 2014)
  • Credentialed Coach Practitioner, Coach Training Academy
  • B.A. Liberal Studies (Health & Nutrition Sciences)

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