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How Your Sleep Patterns May be Affecting Your Diet

Nov 25, 2010

Your diet and your sleep patterns are related. When you do not sleep enough, your body’s physiology changes, which may lead to cravings and an over-consumption of calories. Sleeping too much also has adverse effects on your weight.

Research on Sleep Patterns and Weight Gain

Estimates indicate that more than half of American adults do not sleep enough. To feel healthy and rested, it is recommended that you sleep about eight hours per night. The average American adult sleeps less than seven hours on weeknights.

Studies show that sleeping only a few hours each night significantly increases the chances for obesity. Sleeping only five hours each night increases the chances by 50%. Other research shows that when you do not sleep enough, the hormonal make-up of your body changes. Your ghrelin levels increase, stimulating your appetite. Your leptin levels decrease, making it difficult for you to feel satiated.

Implications of Sleep Research for Weight Gain

Clearly, there is a physiological reason for weight gain resulting from sleep deprivation. When you are sleep deprived, your body craves more food and you will have to eat more of it to feel full. It is common for people who are tired to reach for food as a way of keeping themselves energized and alert. If your goal is to lose weight, one of the ways to overcome cravings, reduce calories and have more control over your diet is simply to get enough sleep.

Another thing to consider is that when you do not sleep enough, you have more hours in the day when calories can be consumed. Much of sleep deprivation is a result of staying up very late at night. Sleeping eight hours each night in place of five or six hours, for example, might help curb late-night snacking. Late-night hours are typically inactive hours where you may be watching television or working on a computer. Going to bed earlier will actually help your body to maintain the proper hormonal balance.

Sleeping too Much and Weight Gain

However, the key when it comes to sleep is balance. Research shows that sleeping more than nine hours each night also leads to weight gain. The cause of this is unclear. However, it is possible that if you stay in bed too long, this is because you are not sleeping solidly. You may be waking up numerous times throughout the night and not getting the deep sleep needed to be alert and healthy.

When trying to control your diet, paying attention to your sleep patterns is a good strategy. Be sure to sleep eight hours each night. Going to bed at the same time each night makes it easier to fall asleep. Try to minimize night-time distractions. Wear ear plugs, if possible, to block out unwanted noise. As it nears bedtime, avoid caffeine or activities that over-stimulate you. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis will keep your body in balance, help to reduce cravings and keep your diet healthy.

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