Circadian rhythm and weight loss

Circadian rhythm and weight loss

The circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. Your body goes through this process to help carry out important functions and to control your daily schedule for being asleep and awake.

Unfortunately, getting a good night’s sleep and keeping your circadian rhythm, or ‘internal clock’, ticking is easier said than done. Between busy schedules, stress, and even scrolling through your phone before bedtime, there are lots of common factors that can lead to sleep disruption. 

Not only can a lack of sleep and disrupted circadian rhythm cause feelings of sluggishness, decreased alertness, and potentially long-term health problems, but it can also affect your weight loss journey. 

How circadian rhythm can affect weight loss.

Research shows that the circadian rhythm is connected to many bodily functions, including metabolism and weight, mental wellness, and supporting a healthy immune system. 


When you’re tired, it’s not easy to maintain healthy habits. When you get less sleep, you are more likely to feel more hungry or have a bigger appetite throughout the day to compensate for your lack of energy.

The combination of having less energy and feeling hungrier may cause you to crave foods that are higher in calories for a quick energy boost.

Reduced feelings of fullness

When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can also disrupt your body’s metabolic processes. For starters, a lack of sleep can affect your body’s regulation of the hormones ghrelin and leptin. These chemical messengers let your body know when it’s hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin).  

When you’re deprived of sleep, your leptin level can be too low, which may cause you to overeat because you’re not getting a signal that you’re full.

Fat storage

Not getting enough sleep may trigger a cortisol spike. Cortisol is a stress hormone that signals your body to conserve energy to fuel your waking hours. In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to hang on to fat.

Insulin sensitivity

Circadian disruption can affect the way the body processes glucose (sugar). When your body’s rhythms are disrupted, it may become less sensitive to insulin, which is the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Becoming less sensitive to insulin could eventually lead to insulin resistance.

Gut microbiome

Studies have shown that disruptions to circadian rhythms can alter the composition of the gut microbiome, which can affect metabolism and contribute to weight gain.

What can you do to improve your circadian rhythm?

The most crucial thing you can do to help maintain a good circadian rhythm is to keep regular sleep-wake cycles.

This means doing your best to go to bed and wake up at a similar time every day, even on weekends. 

You can also avoid exposing yourself to light before you go to bed, especially blue light from devices like your phone. Other strategies for promoting healthy circadian rhythms include getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.


This article was written by the health and wellness experts at GOLO with facts supported by the following sources:



Atlas BioMed



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