Are you, like millions of other Americans, having trouble losing weight? Perhaps you’re not losing weight because you’re not getting enough sleep? Yes, it’s true, sleep deprivation prevents weight loss and can actually lead to weight gain!

Sleep apnea is a leading cause of bad sleep. Over 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and most don’t know they have it. Sleep apnea destroys your night’s sleep by causing you to wake up as many as 50 times an hour. That’s 400 times a night!

And poor sleep can lead to weight gain:

Tiredness makes it harder to eat well and exercise.

With less sleep we tend to make poor decisions because our frontal lobes, the places where good decisions are made, are just not firing on all cylinders! Our frontal lobes help us say no to that extra doughnut at the office or that extra piece of pizza for dinner, so we need that sleep to keep our frontal lobes fueled-up. Furthermore, a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were sleep-deprived, late-night snacking went up, and they were more likely to choose high-carb foods. Another study showed less sleep led to bigger portion sizes, again likely due to the poor mental clarity to make good decisions.

Bad sleep makes you hungry!

Another factor, and one with a bit more scientific prowess, is due to the effect of sleep deprivation on our “hunger” hormones. At least two hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin, seem to be affected. Leptin (the hormone that signals us to stop eating) in the blood goes down with poor sleep so there isn’t enough around to stop us from going for that second helping. And ghrelin (the hormone that tells us we’re hungry) skyrockets so we feel hungry when we shouldn’t. When both of these levels are going in the wrong direction, you can be pretty sure your scale is doing the same!