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How Sleeping Affects Your Metabolism

If you are like me, then you most certainly value the moment where you finish up all your never ending amount of work and life obligations and eagerly head to bed to sleep. Yes, sleep! This enjoyable state of being when your body and mind replenish, heal and recharge. Of course, this is the case when you actually have a night of uninterrupted good quality sleep.

When you enjoy a good night sleep, you feel healthy, alert and well. The opposite happens when you end up staying in bed for hours attempting to fall asleep.

As much as you keep hearing about the many forms of insomnia, this will not be our topic in this article. What I want to stress on instead is the importance of having a goodnight sleep. This daily habit will not only affect your general wellbeing; but, also the wellbeing of your gut and digestive tract! In other words, having bad sleep may actually slow down your metabolism, leading to weight gain or simply alter it altogether!

What is a goodnight sleep?

While this can be a very tricky question, your quality of sleep depends on whether the hours you spent sleeping restored your body and mind. Under the best circumstances, sleep is not a uniform process. It changes from one person to another and even from one night to another for the same person.

Your sleep is split into four to six sleep cycles with different lengths. Every cycle goes through four different stages: the non – REM (3 initial phases) and the REM stage (one phase). During the last stage, your brain activity is almost comparable to when you are awake. Also, your body experiences what we call temporary paralysis of all muscles except the eyes and those of the respiratory tract.

So, where is the problem?

From everything gathered in studies and statistics, we seem to be considered as a sleep-deprived society. People around us now sleep an average of 6.8 hours a night when compared to the great nine hours of last century! Numbers even show that about 30% of adults sleep less than six hours. Acknowledging such a happening means that we are understanding its impact on our health and, more specifically, our metabolism.1

Sleep and Metabolism:

Before talking about the link between these two, it is essential to understand what metabolism is. Simply put, metabolism is the group of biochemical processes happening in a living organism. Some of these work on building up while others on breaking down. So, metabolism is the total amount of energy that is used for our body to build and maintain itself.

When you are having a good night sleep, your metabolism is diminished by 15% and works on accomplishing its necessary functions. When sleep disturbances happen, metabolic dysregulation happens which causes alterations in lipid metabolism and postprandial glucose.2

The tricky part about sleep deprivation is that it works silently and below the surface. So, it works at a cellular level which can affect your metabolism without you knowing. It is simple. When your body is not getting enough sleep at night, it increases the production of one of its hormones, ghrelin, that is responsible for stimulating appetite. A poor night sleep also decreases the production of leptin, a hormone that is responsible for controlling appetite. So, the result will be an increase in ghrelin and lower than normal levels of leptin, which is mainly linked to late night snacks and cravings for carbs rich food. This way, your metabolism is out of its normal functions!

In conclusion, it is very essential for you to realize the close relationship between sleep disturbances and glucose dysregulation as well as diabetes pathogenesis. Both can certainly overpour on the world of obesity. So, monitoring your circadian alteration (sleep changes) will help you monitor your insulin resistance as well as hormonal imbalance.


  1. Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2010/270832/#B17)
  2. Postprandial hormone and metabolic responses in simulated shift work - PubMed (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8958786/)
Author Image Dr. Sandra

Dr. Sandra is a Naturopathic MD who specialized in Preventive Global Health from the United States of America.

Her 12 years of education were obtained from one of the most prominent universities in Beirut, as well as two leading universities in the State of Florida (USA). Dr. Sandra made sure to incorporate interdisciplinary and multicultural approaches in her work. Her long years of studies helped her create her own miniature world of knowledge linking together the healthcare field with Research, Statistics, Food Technology, Environmental & Occupational Health, Preventive Health and most importantly her precious last degree of Global Health.