How Insomnia Can Make You Fat

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Are you an insomniac? Do you deal with disrupted sleep? Do you find yourself craving and eating chips, ice cream, pastries, fries or other fattening foods throughout the day or at night? Do you have a weight problem or are you putting on weight?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should know that science has discovered why this may be happening to you.

The study discovered that the frontal lobes in the brain that govern impulse control, emotional responses, and judgment were diminished after a poor night of sleep.

A similar study found that the reward centers in the brain are activated by the exposure of unhealthy foods in individuals who were short on sleep. Exposure to healthy foods did not activate this pleasure center. This explains why we reach for unhealthy food when we are tired.The evidence is clear: Not getting enough sleep leads to greater calorie consumption. In a nutshell, our ability to make smart food choices is greatly diminished when we are sleep deprived. Foods that are high in sugar and high in fat become more attractive. In addition, lack of sleep also causes hormonal changes to go on in the body that can increase your appetite and make you feel hungry.

If that wasn't enough, when your body goes without an adequate amount of REM sleep your body burns fewer calories when it is resting.The next time you are feeling tired and you find yourself going into the kitchen to graze on some junk food, be conscious of what you are doing and why you are doing it. The cravings you are feeling are real and there is a connection between weight and sleep. That knowledge alone can go far in stopping you in your tracks and helping you make the effort to opt for healthier snacks.** The Big Picture**

Insomnia and disrupted sleep isn’t just something that affects your energy level. It can impact your overall health and weight in a big way. If you are battling the bulge or you are becoming aware that you are putting on weight, it is time to get proactive in dealing with your sleeping issues. If you don’t, you may find that in addition to feeling tired you are putting on a mountain of weight that you will need to lose.

"The key is to treat the underlying issues which prompts the poor food choices to start with."

When you are already dealing with a lack of energy, the thought of exercise and weight loss can be depressing and insurmountable. The key is to treat the underlying issue which prompts the poor food choices to start with – which is lack of sleep. Take the necessary steps you need to take to get your sleep back on track. The goal is to have your sleep and your diet working together to benefit you, not hinder you.

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free sleep training for insomnia. His course will help you identify the issues that are harming your sleep and teach you how to fix them. Over 3,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 96 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.


Greer, Stephanie. et. al. "The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Food Desire in the Human Brain." Nature Communications. August 6, 2013. Accessed August 17, 2015.

"Junk Food May Be More Appealing To Tired Brains." Medical News Today. June 11, 2012. Accessed August 17, 2015.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.