How does sleep deprivation affect our health?


Created by: Gabrielle Forman, Dietetic Intern

Can getting too little sleep affect your hunger and appetite?

Research suggests that regularly restricting sleep can negatively affect your metabolism. In a study, adults who slept four hours a night compared to those who slept ten hours a night experienced an increase in hunger and appetite. They craved high-calorie carbohydrate-rich foods conducive to weight gain in excess amounts.

Does sleep affect our hormones?

How long we sleep can affect our hormone levels. Two hormones, ghrelin and leptin help regulate appetite and hunger. When these are out of balance it may lead to increased appetite, overeating, and weight gain. 

How can long-term sleep deprivation affect our health?

Sleep deprivation can be damaging to our health. Going without the recommended amount of sleep can lead to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, insulin insensitivity, and dysregulation of the hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Low energy levels and fatigue are additional side effects of restricted sleep, which may result in decreased physical activity and more sedentary time. 

How much should I be sleeping each night?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep ranges: 

  • Teenagers (Age 14-17): 8-10 hours per night
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours per night
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours per night
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours per night


Information adapted from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, eatright.org, The Sleep Foundation https://www.sleepfoundation.org/, Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org, and Kim TW, Jeong JH, Hong SC. The impact of sleep and circadian disturbance on hormones and metabolism. Int J Endocrinol. 2015;2015:591729. doi:10.1155/2015/591729

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