How Sleep Contributes To Your Belly Fat

You've joined the gym, you're eating a healthy diet, but for some reason, your pudge just won't budge. Not only can belly fat keep you from getting into your favorite jeans, but it's also a risk factor for serious health conditions. According to the UT Southwestern Medical Center, abdominal fat is dangerous because it surrounds the internal organs and increases your risk of diseases of the heart and liver, diabetes, and cancer.

It's easy to put off getting a good night's sleep in order to binge-watch your favorite shows instead. However, if you aren't getting enough sleep, it may be the one thing that is causing you to accumulate fat at the waistline. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need 7 or more hours of sleep each night. However, 35% of adults in the United States report that they sleep less than 7 hours each night, also known as short sleep. Short sleepers are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, which can lead to more belly fat.

Your metabolism slows down when you don't get enough sleep

Many of us think that slow metabolism comes with age or lack of exercise. However, sleep deprivation could be the reason you have more belly fat than you would like. Sleep plays an essential role in the way your body decides to burn or store fat.

A 2020 article published in the journal Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome discussed the correlation between night shift work, short sleep, and obesity. Regardless of age and gender, night shift workers got fewer hours of sleep and had larger abdominal measurements. Abdominal obesity was also 3 times higher than day shift workers who got more sleep.

When you don't get enough sleep, cortisol, a stress hormone, signals the body to store fat so that you can have extra fuel during waking hours. The increase in cortisol levels causes your blood glucose levels to rise. The increase in blood glucose can cause insulin resistance, and as result, the excess glucose can lead to obesity and diabetes (via WebMD).

The kind of food we eat has an impact on our body's metabolism and belly fat. Poor sleep habits are often linked to bad food choices that cause excess belly fat. When you are sleep-deprived, the frontal lobe of the brain has a decreased ability to make good decisions and control impulses. Without at least 7 hours of sleep each night, your body doesn't have the fuel needed to keep belly fat at bay.