optimal sleep can support a weight loss or fat loss plan

Why Sleep is Important for Weight Loss

Are you eating low carb, avoiding processed foods, prioritizing strength training and sweating through your HIIT workouts, but not seeing the fat or weight loss you want? It might not be your daily routine that is the problem. Instead, what is happening at night could be sabotaging your results, because good quality sleep is important for weight loss.

I’m passionate about healthy sleep and its benefits for immune health, gut health, cognitive function and energy levels. This is why I created an online program called 6 Weeks to Less Stress, More Sleep to help people get optimal sleep. But I also encourage my Private Coaching and Lean and Clean Online Program clients to prioritize their sleep hygiene for its weight loss benefits.

Research shows sleep can support weight and fat loss

In a new study from the University of Chicago, researchers had overweight volunteers follow a calorie-restricted diet for two weeks and then had them sleep for either an 8.5 hours a night or a 5.5 hour night. They measured both body composition (lean muscle mass to body fat ratio) and the hormones responsible for energy production, hunger, and satiety.
The study showed that whilst both groups lost weight, the group that slept for 8.5 hours a night lost significantly more body fat. The group that slept for 5.5 hours a night lost most of their weight from muscle.
Lack of sleep is catabolic to the body—sleep is the key time for our bodies to repair and grow. Without sufficient sleep not only will you fail to grow and repair lean muscle tissue, but you will breakdown what you already have. So all that hard work in the gym will go to waste, and losing lean muscle will result in a lower resting metabolism.
In addition, the group of research participants that got only 5.5 hours of sleep had higher levels of ghrelin, causing increased hunger and reduced satiety (‘feeling full’). They also had lower levels of epinephrine, the hormone that helps you utilize stored fat for fuel.

Optimize your weight or fat loss program with my top 5 tips for better sleep

1. No screen time for at least 1 hour before bed

One way to get better quality sleep for your fat or weight loss program is to ditch the screens at least an hour before going to bed (ideally 2 hours). This means no phones, no laptops and no TV. The blue light emitted from these devices prevents our pineal gland from secreting melatonin, the hormone that helps our bodies fall asleep.

2. Use blue-blocking technology

Set your smartphone and laptop to switch to ‘Night Mode’ automatically at sunset and wear blue-blocking glasses as soon as it gets dark. The ones I wear are from Swanwick Sleep (don’t use this as an excuse to skip step 1 though)!

3. Establish a bedtime routine

If you’re trying to lose weight and fat, a regular bedtime routine is important. This will help both your body and mind prepare for sleep and will help you fall asleep even on the nights you feel alert and wired. My bedtime routine looks like this: turn off all devices, prepare coffee and smoothies for the morning, take a hot shower or bath, take my sleep supplements, read a fiction book for 30 minutes, fall asleep. My body is so used to this routine that I typically only make it through 15 minutes of my novel!

4. Take sleep supplements

My favourite sleep supplement is Zyflamend Sleep from New Chapter. This blend of calming herbs helps your body manage inflammation whilst you sleep.

5. Sleep in a cold, dark room

To support your weight loss journey with better sleep, there are few things you can invest in: blackout curtains, a great eye mask, and silicone earplugs. Turn your heat down to between 65-67 degrees, and to really optimize the deep restorative sleep that is essential for fat loss use a Chilipad. Tim and I actually bought 2 as we love them so much. Use code ‘HANWAY25’ for a 25% discount at checkout.


Nedeltcheva, A., et al. Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2010. 153(7): 435–441.

St-Onge, M., et al. Short Sleep Duration Increases Energy Intakes but Does not Change Energy Expenditure in Normal-Weight Individuals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011. 94, 410-416.

Chen, X., et al.  Is Sleep Duration Associated with Childhood Obesity? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Obesity. 2008. 16, 265-274.

Patel, S., et al. Association Between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2006. 164, 947-954.

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