Sleep is nutrition for your brain, and unfortunately many Americans don't get nearly enough of it! The recommended amount of sleep is around 7-9 hours a night, however, 1 in 3 adults are getting much less.
Obviously, poor sleep isn't the only factor in weight gain. The only thing that actually causes weight gain a consistent calorie surplus. However, chronic lack of sleep is correlated with bodily stress that can influence your hunger and stress cues. It doesn't take long, either! A University of Colorado study showed getting 5 hours of sleep per night led participants to gain an average of 2 pounds in one week!
How does this work, exactly? Sleep deprivation majorly influences your hunger signals. When you're tired, leptin, the hormone in your fat cells that suppresses appetite, gets reduced (i.e., you don't feel as full). Working with that, sleep deprivation also increases Ghrelin, the hormone in your stomach that triggers feelings of hunger.
Not only is your hormone balance redistributed to make you feel hungrier, but also a lack of sleep raises your blood levels of endocannabinoid. This lipid makes the act of eating more enjoyable and intensifies your cravings for fat and sugar-laden foods. Low on sleep, your brain has a harder time making informed choices about food, and you're more likely to give into your cravings for junk food.
In addition to all of this, it's important to recognize that spending less time sleeping reduces your body's ability to recover from inflammation. It also gives you more opportunities to spend time eating when you may not be actually hungry!
The next time you find yourself in front of the fridge late at night, ask yourself, "am I genuinely hungry, or just tired?". Prioritizing sleep is a vital part of health that is often overlooked. Try getting one week's worth of the recommended amount of sleep and see how it affects your mood, food choices, and more! I'd love to know:
How much sleep are you getting per night?
Hit 'reply' and let me know in the comments!
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