Though not one to eat more when I am excited or when I am ticked off, I am a tired eater. My kids even know that when they see me standing in front of the pantry or opening the refrigerator door 5 times an hour, that I probably did not get much sleep the previous night. It has been particularly bad lately: a combination of stress, workload, parenting, and a husband who snores profusely.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, their most recent survey shows that we are averaging a half hour less than that, with a reported 6 hours and 31 minutes of sleep each night during the work week. Less than half of adults say they get a good night’s sleep during the work week.
If you want to stick to good eating habits, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is the cause of several food, calorie, and weight-related issues, such as:
How sleep deprivation impacts your weight 1 of 8
Hormonal changes 2 of 8
Lack of sleep was associated with increased levels of ghrelin, the hormone which increases appetite. It also leads to lower levels of leptin, the hormone that indicates when the body is satiated. Not such a great combination, is it?
Fewer calories burned 3 of 8
If we are consuming more calories when we are sleep deprived, then at least we are burning more calories in the time that we are awake, aren't we? Well, not so much. People who are sleep deprived do not necessarily burn more calories in the time that they are awake. Research shows that people who sleep less do not burn additional calories.
Source: American Heart Association
Changes in the brain’s ability to make decisions 4 of 8
MRI scans show that sleep deprivation disrupts brain activity by impairing the higher-order regions in the frontal lobe of the brain. Is it any surprise that this is the area of the brain where your brain decides whether to go for the apple or the apple pie?
More cravings 5 of 8
Studies show that people favor unhealthy snack and junk foods when they are sleep deprived. That frontal lobe activity, which gets altered under sleep deprivation, is what governs decision-making. On top of that, sleep deprivation also increases activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards.
Night snackers beware. Your brain is getting the better of you.
More calories consumed 6 of 8
If you are craving more and less able to refrain, it leads to more calories consumed, right? Right. In one sleep study, the group who slept for 80 minutes less consumed an average 549 additional calories each day. If you multiply that by 7 days in a week, that makes for an extra pound worth of calories per week. So either sleep more, or hit that gym hard, folks.
More calories purchased 7 of 8
They say you shouldn't go to the supermarket when you are already hungry. Well, you probably shouldn't go when you are tired either. People who were deprived sleep purchase more calories and grams of food in a mock supermarket. So we are not just eating more calories, we are buying more calories too.
And the end result… 8 of 8
Given all of these factors, it should be no surprise that sleep deprivation leads to weight gain. Inadequate sleep is linked to obesity in children, which can persist into adulthood if not resolved. More than one in four kids who don't sleep enough may be overweight.
Additionally, a study of twins who are genetically predisposed to a likelihood of obesity found that sleeping less at night may increase the likelihood of someone with genetic risks for obesity to become obese. On the other hand, getting enough sleep may suppress those genetic influences on body weight.
So get good sleep!
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