The link between restorative sleep and weight

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Most of us who suffer a night of non-restorative sleep tend to eat more the next day. Epidemiologic evidence links sleep loss with obesity. (1)

An underlying cause involves changes in brain activity that increase our desire for high-calorie foods that cause weight gain.

Other factors linking weight gain to sleep deprivation are increases in hormones like ghrelin that stimulate hunger and decreases in leptin which suppresses appetite. (2)

One epidemiological study found that older adults sleeping less than five hours per night are at approximately 40% greater risk of becoming obese compared to those sleeping seven to eight hours per night. (3)

Read moreWhat is circadian rhythm & how does it affect your health? >>

Faster aging and sleep-depeprivation

Doctors are treating many health problems that are associated with sleep loss. Age-related disorders accelerate in response to insufficient sleep.

Harvard University Medical School published a report revealing the many health problems associated with sleep loss including: (4)

  • Hypertension
  • Immune impairment
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type II diabetes
  • Common colds
  • Obesity

The Harvard report referred to a study showing those who slept less than seven hours a night are nearly three times more likely to develop cold symptoms compared to those who slept eight or more hours.

Those with good sleep “quality” were the least likely to contract a common cold. (4,5)

This Harvard report described three separate studies suggesting that insufficient sleep may increase mortality (death) risk by 15%. (6,4)

Read more: 

Why sleep is important for the immune system >>

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Ashwagandha for better sleep quality

A 2019 placebo-controlled study showed that a lower potency ashwagandha extract taken twice a day reduced stress and anxiety, and demonstrated “significant improvement in sleep quality.” (7)

A more impressive 2020 placebo-controlled study used a new ashwagandha that is more concentrated and taken only once at bedtime. The results found improvements as high as 72% across a wide spectrum of sleep measures. (8)

Those challenged with getting enough quality sleep should consider novel approaches being uncovered in the published scientific literature.

The ability to reduce one’s calorie intake and disease risk in response to better sleep makes achieving restorative nocturnal rest a high health priority.

This might happen with the proper use of ashwagandha and other approaches that yield ancillary health benefits. (9)

Read more: Weight management – how to boost weight loss >>

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  1. Greer SM, Goldstein AN, Walker MP. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nat Commun. 2013 2013/08/06;4(1):2259.
  2. Available at: https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk. Accessed November 10, 2021.
  3. Xiao Q, Arem H, Moore SC, et al. A large prospective investigation of sleep duration, weight change, and obesity in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Dec 1;178(11):1600-10.
  4. Available at: https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health. Accessed November 10, 2021.
  5. Cohen S, Doyle WJ, Alper CM, et al. Sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jan 12;169(1):62-7.
  6. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20669438. Accessed November 16, 2021.
  7. Salve J, Pate S, Debnath K, et al. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus. 2019 Dec 25;11(12):e6466.
  8. Deshpande A, Irani N, Balkrishnan R, et al. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults. Sleep Med. 2020 Aug;72:28-36.
  9. https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2022/2/sleep-loss-weight-gain