Snooze University

6 Possible Causes of Loss of Appetite and Insomnia

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jan 30, 2022

If you have a loss of appetite and insomnia symptoms for more than a short duration, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

I’m going to go over possible conditions that cause both these types of symptoms, and some of them are quite serious.

Causes of Loss of Appetite That Could Cause Insomnia

There isn’t a single common cause of both appetite loss and sleep problems.

However, it is somewhat common to see these symptoms together. For example, insomnia is a common symptom for those with anorexia nervosa (1). Note that a regular loss of appetite is called anorexia, while anorexia nervosa is the eating disorder most people are familiar with.

There are many causes of lack of appetite, but only some commonly affect sleep. Here’s a fairly complete list of conditions that can affect appetite, I’ve bolded those that we’ll look at in a bit more detail after:

  • Colds, flus, infections
  • Upset stomach
  • Acid reflux
  • Allergies
  • Pregnancy
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Diabetes
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Thyroid problems (underactive or overactive)
  • COPD
  • Heart failure
  • Cancer

The bolded items can all potentially make it harder to sleep.

Let’s briefly go through the link between them and insomnia.

Acid Reflux

If you have acid reflux, it’s pretty obvious due to the burning sensation in your throat.

Nonetheless, acid reflux can cause insomnia along with a lack of appetite. This can be treated with over the counter medication, but identifying the underlying triggers for acid reflux is needed to prevent future recurrences.


Along with anxiety, depression is an extremely common cause of insomnia. And while depression often has many other symptoms, lack of appetite is among them.

It’s not always easy to self-diagnose depression, so getting a professional evaluation is a good idea.


Insomnia is a common symptom of pregnancy, along with appetite changes (in both directions).

But while this is one potential explanation of the 2 symptoms in question, insomnia during the first trimester isn’t too common, so it’s unlikely to be a surprise.


Stress and anxiety are leading causes of insomnia in general.

Depending on the person, stress can also suppress appetite (while others tend to eat more when stressed).

If these symptoms appeared out of nowhere and are caused by stress, there’s usually an obvious trigger like career or relationship problems.


This is another case where it should be obvious if alcohol is causing someone’s symptoms or not.

Alcohol often causes a lack of appetite, along with sleep problems. It can take several weeks for insomnia to go away after quitting drinking (for heavy drinkers).


Diabetes is a serious condition that can both cause a loss of appetite and sleep issues.

Insomnia is a fairly common side effect of diabetes (2). This is obviously a case where professional medical care is required for treatment.

Thyroid Problems

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can result in insomnia symptoms, and can also affect appetite (either increase or decrease depending on person).

Again, this needs to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

Treating Appetite Loss and Insomnia

If both insomnia and anorexia pop up at the same time, there’s a good chance that they are connected.

And while both types of symptoms can be treated, there’s typically going to be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

Minor cases with an obvious cause may be able to be treated at home, but this is a situation where the vast majority of people should see a doctor.

Along with some of the serious underlying conditions we looked at above, there are other rare conditions that can also cause appetite loss and sleep trouble (3). Only a doctor can run appropriate tests and diagnose any issues correctly before they develop into a more serious situation.


  1. The relationship between sleep, nutrition and mood: a study of patients with anorexia nervosa
  2. Insomnia With Objective Short Sleep Duration Is Associated With Type 2 Diabetes
  3. Atypical Kleine–Levin syndrome: Can insomnia and anorexia be features too?

Medical Disclaimer: The information on is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.

About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.