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Sleep and Weight Among College Students

Based on recent research, adolescents and college students sleep less than the recommended 9 hours of sleep. On average, college students sleep about 7 hours or less. Additionally, their sleep patterns are inconsistent. Thus, the body is unable to adjust adequately and the chances of weight gain increases. In another report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30% of Americans sleep less than 6 hours!

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?

  • If you are sleep deprived, certain brain functions are also impaired such as decision making and emotional function which affects behavior.

  • Basically, the body is trying to acquire more energy by increasing caloric intake to remain awake. However, that caloric intake exceeds the needed amount and you end up gaining weight instead.

  • Lack of sleep reduces leptin, which is a type of hormone that affects satiety and appetite. With a decrease of leptin, another hormone, ghrelin, is increased which stimulates appetite.

Weight Gain and Other Factors

Sleep may just be one of the factors of weight gain among college students. Other reasons may be due to:

  • Increase in social outings (eating out more, social drinking, and fast-food meals)

  • Stress

  • Unbalanced diet

  • Decreased physical activity

How to maximize your health:

  • Have adequate amounts of sleep (~9 hours) can rejuvenate your whole body

  • Avoid eating and snacking late night, especially sugary foods. If you must snack, try healthier alternatives such as carrot sticks and fruits.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and have consistent meal times as it has an effect in reducing/maintaining weight.

  • Overall, try to maintain a balance between diet, sleep, and physical activities.

Interested in learning about weight goal and nutrition needs? Schedule a free body weight and fat% analysis with Hazel at 626-283-5128 or email to

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