Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but about 35% Americans regularly miss the mark. Unfortunately, if you don’t sleep well, it can be more difficult to eat well. Here’s how sleep influences your eating habits, plus science-backed ways to get more rest to fuel your body better.
It can help you control your intake of added sugar
Got a sweet tooth? Getting enough sleep can help. A 2018 study examined the impact of additional eye closure on eating habits, recruiting healthy people who chronically slept between five and seven hours per night. One group was randomized to receive a 45-minute counseling session with information on sleep recommendations and simple strategies to help them get more sleep.
Although no one received dietary advice, those who received sleep advice reduced their intake of added sugar by 10 grams per day, even though they did not meet the recommended sleep goal of seven at nine o’clock a night. So, even with a little more sleep (but less than recommended), the quality of their diet improved considerably. For the record, 10 grams of sugar equals 2 ½ teaspoons, which is more than you’d get in a fun size. Snickers bar.
It could make you less vulnerable to food cravings
If you don’t sleep well, it will be harder to manage cravings. Using MRI machines to detect brain activation, researchers found that after a short night’s sleep, people who viewed images of unhealthy foods, such as donuts and candy, experienced increased activity in areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. Meanwhile, the same brain hotspots showed a significantly lower response to healthy eating.
It boils down to this: when you’re sleep deprived, it changes the way your brain sees food, so you’re going to have a louder craving for sweets and snacks, making it harder to feel good. control around them.
It changes your perception of healthier foods
A 2021 study found that after a night of sleep deprivation, participants’ ratings of healthier, lower-calorie foods decreased compared to their ratings after getting enough sleep. Yet the participants did not reduce their intake of these foods, but they did increase the amount of high-calorie foods they ate. Additionally, based on eye movement tracking, the researchers concluded that participants felt less conflicted choosing unhealthy dishes when they were sleep deprived. In other words, it was easier for them to make a less healthy choice.
It contributes to overeating
When you have insufficient sleep, you feel hungrier, thanks to the increase in the hormone ghrelin. Also, it will take longer to feel full due to low leptin levels. Unsurprisingly, this could lead to you being served larger portions, as was seen in a study 2019 in women who usually slept seven to nine hours a night after being ordered to sleep a third less. After limiting their sleep, the women reported feeling hungrier and having increased food cravings the next day. Also, when they went to the lab for lunch the next day, they helped themselves to larger portions, serving themselves 12.4% more calories, despite eating the same amount before lunch as after having slept well.
It can help you manage your weight
Previous studies have shown that insufficient sleep may contribute to weight gain due to its impact on hunger hormones and your perception of healthy and unhealthy foods. These factors can promote overeating, put you in a calorie surplus and contribute to weight gain. A 2022 study examined how extra sleep would influence the calorie intake of adults who chronically slept less than 6.5 hours per night. One group was randomized to receive advice on sleep hygiene to prolong their sleep to 8.5 hours per night.
The impact of the extra sleep was dramatic. Those who received counseling increased their sleep by about 1.2 hours and reduced their daily calorie intake by 270 calories. Using a body weight simulator, the researchers predicted that, if continued, the impact of the extra sleep alone could result in a 26-pound weight loss over three years. Keep in mind that the participants did not receive dietary advice and the study was conducted at home, not in a lab. Thus, those who slept more naturally reduced their caloric intake.
Related: Need more zzz’s? Try This 7 Day Sleep Plan
9 expert tips for better sleep
If you regularly sleep less than seven hours a night, these tips can help you follow the recommendations, which will also help you eat better.
- Don’t go to bed too hungry or too full. This is especially problematic if you eat a large meal close to bedtime, even more so if you have GERD. Ideally leave at least two hours between your last piece and bedtime. If you are too hungry to sleep, have a light snack.
- Reduce caffeine after noon. Caffeine is a stimulant and it takes longer to cleanse your system than you might think. the MediumThe time is around five hours, but it can take twice that for some people.
- Stay within healthy drinking limits. These limits are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. While alcohol makes you sleepy at first, it causes other disturbances that eventually reduce the quality of your sleep.
- Go out every day. Sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells you when to wake up and when it’s time to go to bed.
- Participate in the activity almost every day. Exercising regularly is good for sleep. And your workouts don’t have to be intense to achieve that goal.
- Keep your bedroom ready for sleep. It should be cool, dark, cozy and quiet.
- Reduce your use of electronics at night. Plug your phone across the room to limit the temptation to scroll.
- Be consistent with bedtime and wake times. To extend the time you spend sleeping, try going to bed 30 minutes earlier and waking up 30 minutes later.
- Participate in relaxing rituals. This could include deep breathing, mediation, and journaling. The goal is to prepare your brain and body for bed.