How Your Sleep Habits Can Lead To Weight Gain (VIDEO)

We're all well-versed in how healthy eating and exercise help to avoid packing on the pounds, but one little-known catalyst for weight gain may happening overnight, while you sleep -- or don't, as it turns out.

Registered dietician Rebecca Scritchfield recently spoke with #OWNSHOW about the correlation between sleep and weight gain, explaining how getting less than seven or eight hours of sleep can make you overeat the next day.

"What we know in the research is that when you have, say, five hours of sleep, you actually have an increase in a hormone called ghrelin. Think of this as your growth hormone -- it actually increases your appetite the next day," Scritchfield explains. "You also decrease your hormone called leptin, which is what suppresses your appetite."

The bottom line: If you don't get enough sleep, you'll be hungrier when you wake up. And that's not all, according to Scritchfield.

"You tend to crave the foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat," she adds.

What's also notable about the impact of these hormones is how quickly you feel the effects.

"If you've had one bad night of sleep... the next day, you're tired, you're cranky, irritable, your mood is off, your cravings are off," Scritchfield says. "So, it doesn't take much to produce these hormonal changes that can, over time, impact your weight."

Additional factors that affect weight:
The biggest mistakes people make when ordering take-out
The weight-gaining condition that affects 75 percent of Americans
The ingredient that sends your body into a cycle of unhealthy eating

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