Lack Of Sleep And Belly Fat

Eating less and exercising more is not the only factor determining losing belly fat. While belly fat can still accumulate for those who exercise and eat a healthy diet, lack of sleep is often overlooked.

Recent studies show that belly fat is a symptom of lack of sleep. When your body is not getting enough sleep, it releases more of the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol stimulates fat production deep in the abdomen. High levels of cortisol mean an increase in your appetite and triggers cravings for high fat and high sugar foods.

So if you are looking to reduce your belly fat in addition to a good diet and exercise, you must start making the effort of having a minimum of 7hrs sleep a night.

These are a 5 tips you could take to getting better sleep:

Stick to a sleep schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday including weekends and holidays. Choose a bed time when you normally feel tired so that you don’t spend too much time tossing and turning. However if you don’t fall asleep within 15minutes, get up and do something relaxing and get back to bed when you are tired. If you are getting enough sleep, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock to wake you up. If you find you need to set the alarm you might need an earlier bedtime. I personally haven’t set my alarm for the past 2years, not to say I haven’t overslept in those 3 years, but it hardly ever happens.

Pay attention to what you eat and drink

Don’t go to bed either hungry or really full. Avoid big meals at night and try and make dinner time a bit earlier in the evening. Your discomfort might keep you up. also limit the amount you drink as toilet trips in the middle of the night will interrupt your sleep. also avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine closer to your bed time . The stimulating effects of caffeine take hours to wear off. even though alcohol can make you feel sleepy at first, it can interrupt your sleep later at night.


Regular exercisers sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. The more you exercise the better quality sleep you will have, but even light exercise such as walking for 10mins a day can improve your sleep. However try to avoid exercising too close to bed time as you might feel too energised to fall asleep. It can take several months of regular exercise before you experience the benefits of quality sleep, so be patient.

Clear your head and free your mind

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night. Worry and anger from your day can make it difficult to fall asleep. Put aside work and complicated decisions and discussions 2 hours before bedtime. If you still have a lot on your mind, write it down and let go of it for the night. Then about an hour before you sleep read something positive or calming, meditate or listen to some quiet music.

Mattress and pillow

It is recommended that you change your mattress and pillows at least every 5-8years. Research shows that mattress and pillow can greatly impact the quality of sleep as well as joint and back pain. Also check your pillow position to avoid tension and cramps that may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Your neck and spine should be in a straight line. if you sleep on your stomach like me consider using a very flat pillow or no pillow to keep neck and spine in a straight line.



  1. Hi there! I just read your article on lack of sleep and the effects it can have on belly fat. I just wanted to post you a quick comment as this article summed up a lot for me!

    I am trying to loose weight but because of my job I appear to be doing a lot of things wrong! I sometimes work late and so eat late in the evening before I go to bed. I also work shifts, so sometimes I eat my main meal when I finish a night shift. My sleep patterns are all over the place because I work both days and nights and I eat at random times too, depending on what I am working.

    My sleep is sometimes quite poor and I must admit to having a drink now and again to help me to sleep.

    There are a lot of things that I need to change!

    1. Hi Andrew, you are not alone a lot of people including me struggle with eating at the right time and sleeping at the right time due to our work and other commitments. Changing these habits to a healthy life style will take time and requires commitment. If you take small steps you will eventually get there. Good luck!!!

  2. Hello here. You are 100% right about the sleep importance. People who are lacking sleep are not happy. They are stressed and tired. Most of them want to comfort themselves. The refrigerator becomes a best place to find safe haven.
    Unfortunately, additional pounds add fast to abdominal area.
    People who work night shifts suffer too. They disrupt Arcadian cycle.Our bodies are not prepared to work at night. Of course there can be some exceptions but not all time.
    Your mentioned advices will help people who would like to improve their waist and overall well-being.
    All the best, Nemira.

  3. You’re so much right on! Sleep is critical not only for diet, but for over all health in general. As a matter of fact, it is suggested to go to bed and sleep during the hours of 10 pm to 3 am due to the way the regulates our bodies inner chemistry.

    As a matter of fact, many people don’t realize this, but fat burning doesn’t actually happen when you work out. Even strenuous cardio doesn’t burn fat on the spot. It’s not until you go to sleep that all of the effort during the day pays off. It’s during sleep that fat is shed.

    The importance of sleep can’t be emphasized enough. Excellent information.

  4. Hi
    This was a good article on the correlation between sleep and belly fat. I have insomnia and I am doing just about everything you say to do in the article on sleep habits and belly fat. One thing you did not mention is don’t use your bedroom for anything but sleep. We start lounging in there watching tv and eating and our bodies will fight sleep!

    1. Thank you Robin. I totally agree that is an important point to make. Using your bedroom for other things teaches our brain that the bedroom is not for sleeping.

  5. I agree completely with the idea of needing a lot of sleep for health and it’s interesting to see the connection with belly fat specifically. I had heard that cortisol was the stress hormone that makes us crazy and gain weight, but hadn’t put the pieces together with sleep. I can vouch for exercise leading to deeper sleep, that’s one of the first benefits I notice whenever I start working out after an off period. Thanks for the good info!

  6. I never knew a lack of sleep could encourage belly fat production.

    However, now that you mention it I always want to eat a lot when I haven’t slept well. Sometimes my mind runs a lot at night so I need to work more at clearing my head before bed.

    We also have a 4 year old that wakes up in the middle of the night so there isn’t much I can do about that but I will just have to try and be more aware of it!

  7. Thanks for this great article. I’ve heard that sleep plays a role in weight loss but I didn’t know to what extent. I do find that when I regularly exercise I sleep better and that I don’t have to rely on natural sleeping aids. And the days I don’t sleep much I tend be hungry all day and I overeat every single time which sabotages my weight loss efforts. I didn’t know that changing your mattress and pillow makes a difference.

    Sticking to a sleep schedule kind of sucks when you are social and go out but at this point it’s critical that I get my sleep back on track so I’m willing to sacrifice that.

  8. Interesting post! I think you’re spot on when you relate a lack of sleep and belly fat. They are definitely both related in more way than one.

    It’s actually amazing how your body utilises fat when we’re asleep. That’s why, as you rightly say, it’s important not to go to sleep with a full stomach as a lot of these calories will just get stored as fat. I try and maintain a 12 hour period of not eating anything, from 8pm – 8am every day. This keeps belly fat to a minimum and helps contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle.

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