Weight loss not going all that well? You might need more sleep. 

Surprisingly, experts believe there’s a strong link between lack of sleep and weight gain. So if you’ve been trying to lose weight and are having a hard time, try increasing your daily sleeping time by an hour or two and see how that affects your hunger and energy levels. You might find a little extra shuteye is all you need to move the scale in the right direction. Here’s 10 reasons why this is true.

Your Body Produces Less Leptin When You Don’t Sleep

Well Leptin is the satiety hormone. What that means is that having high levels of leptin in your body will make you feel full and satisfied, so your appetite will decrease and you won’t feel the need to overeat. Why is that connected to sleeping? Because your body produces leptin while you sleep. One added benefit: studies have shown that people with high levels of leptin are more likely to exercise more or at least be more active — which also helps with the weight loss process.

Lack of Sleep Increases Hunger

When you don’t sleep enough, your body produces more grehlin, a hormone in charge of increasing appetite. This happens, in part, because your body wants you to eat more when you’re tired so your energy levels increase.

If You Don’t Sleep Enough, Your Energy Levels Will Plummet

Exercise is an essential part of any weight loss effort, but in order to exercise effectively, you need energy. The key word here is “effectively.” Even if you make regular gym visits, you’re not likely to put as much effort into your workout if you’re exhausted. As a result, you won’t push yourself hard enough and are more likely to cut your workout short or “take it easy” by reducing its intensity. In either case, you won’t be burning as many calories as you would if you were well-rested and working at maximum capacity.

Sleep Less, Eat More Sugar

The more tired you are, the more you’ll crave sugars and plain (white) carbs in general. Why? Because these are converted into glucose quickly and can be absorbed into your bloodstream in a matter of minutes. Glucose is a very effective – although short-lived – source of energy. When you’re really tired, your body will ask you for more sugar to keep going (and get going fast), and you might end up with big sugar cravings as a result.

Lack of Sleep Slows Down Your Metabolism

The more tired you are, the slower your metabolism will run. This is a sort of defense mechanism your body uses in order to burn fewer calories. Why? Because your body is trying to preserve energy to keep you going despite the lack of sleep, so it will slow down the calorie burning. As a result, your weight loss slows too.

Lack of Sleep Slows Down Fat Loss

According to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, people who followed a calorie-reduced diet and slept 8.5 hours lost more body fat than people who followed the same diet and only slept 5.5 hours. The researchers pointed out that the difference lies on a signal the brain receives that makes them people eat more when they’re tired and missing out on sleep.

You’re More Likely to Injure Yourself When You’re Tired

When you don’t get enough rest, your muscles won’t have time to recuperate from your previous workout and as a result will be weaker and more likely to get injured. This is especially true if you’re doing streneous workouts that include running, stretching, or lifting weights.

Lack of Sleep Can Worsen Symptoms of Depression

Experts agree that you’re more likely to overeat and just veg out on the couch (instead of exercising) when you’re feeling depressed. Lack of sleep worsens the symptoms of depression and perpetuates the cycle. Without proper sleep, your body and mind do not have enough time to ‘recharge,’ resulting in diminishing levels of willpower, tolerance, patience, and overall energy to face life’s challenges. Stack up several days or weeks or even months of bad sleep, and it becomes almost impossible to meet a challenge with what little rest you’re getting.

Muscles Won’t Develop as Fast if You’re Not Sleeping

You build your muscles when they are at rest not when you’re actually working them out. Muscle fibers get injured when you lift weights, and when muscles rest, the fibers repair themselves. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s ability to repair muscle is impaired. You want these muscles to build and form, they will help you burn fat even at rest.

Lack of Sleep Might Increase Fast-Food Eating

According to researchers from the City University of New York, people who have sleep issues are more likely to eat out (and to focus on heavy meals or fast food) rather than eating at home. The problem with eating out is that restaurant meals are often prepared using lots of fat and extra calories, while meals prepared at home can be kept healthy by avoiding add-ons that increase their calorie and fat content