How Sleep is Causing You to Gain Weight

How Sleep is Causing You to Gain Weight

By: Jordan Thuilliez

There is a not-so-silent killer that is preventing you from losing weight. 

This killer is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Not only can OSA take one decade off of your life if it goes untreated*, it is also stopping you from losing the weight that you are working hard to get rid of.

OSA occurs when there is an anatomical collapse in your body that blocks your airway intermittently when you’re sleeping. This causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing throughout your sleep.

So how does obstructive sleep apnea affect your weight?

Here’s the punch in the gut: if you have sleep apnea, your body is in a crisis mode where it is working overtime, your heart rate is jumping to a higher level than you could produce if you were sprinting on a treadmill, cortisol is being rapidly introduced into your bloodstream in order to wake you up, you wake up several times a night gasping for air.

Yes, all that happens when you think you are sleeping!

The effect that cortisol has on the body as a stress hormone is making food turn into fat. 

One of the effects of having these apneic events is that the body releases cortisol as part of the response to depriving our body of oxygen.

It’s the quickest way to metabolize food. When there is more cortisol in your bloodstream, you will gain weight easier and crave more simple sugars. Instead of being processed from the body or into muscle, cortisol stores more and more carbs into fat.

You will wake up in the morning feeling tired.

As a result, you will tend to exercise less due to fatigue caused by a lack of restorative sleep.

You won’t make it that yoga class…again, and you won’t see the results you hoped for even though you have been working out more lately.

Ask yourself if any of the following sound familiar:

  • You want to lose weight but you just can’t find the energy to do so
  • You’re always tired
  • You are working hard to lose weight but you can’t seem to actually lose the weight

How we sleep matters. Sleep is the foundation of life. If that foundation is cracked, it will affect everything in your life, including your weight. For detailed lessons on sleep and the effects on your health, visit our online course at!

  1. *“Yes, You Can Die from Sleep Apnea. Carrie Fisher Did.” Sleep Apnea, 5 June 2019,

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