Ever stay out a little too late on the weekends? Or miss a few hours of sleep some night? I know I have and think it’s safe to say most people have been sleep deprived at some point in their lives. Well, sleep deprivation does not only make it a lot harder to get through the work day, it can actually lead to weight gain, or inhibit weight loss.
Research has shown that chronic sleep loss really messes with your hormones. These hormones include the 2 involved in hunger and appetite control: leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is often referred to as the “satiety hormone”, but it actually a protein. When we eat, our fat cells release leptin to signal that we’ve had enough to eat and that our fat cells are full. Chronic sleep loss has been shown to decrease the amount of circulating leptin, in turn, increasing hunger and appetite.
At the same time, chronic sleep loss increases the amount of ghrelin, “the hunger hormone”. Ghrelin is produced by cells in the stomach and pancreas and signals hunger. Normally, ghrelin increases before meals and decreases after meals. Lack of sleep causes an increase in ghrelin, increasing hunger cues.
Therefore, lack of sleep leads in increased hunger in more ways than one.
Another study found that one night of reduced sleep (4 hours vs 8 hours) subjects ate ~22% more and expressed greater feelings of hunger before breakfast and dinner.
Moral of the story: Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. It will not only make you more rested and probably in a better mood, but it will help keep you from overeating.
Need help falling asleep?
Have a small snack before bed. Try to eat something containing tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in sleep and relaxation. Foods high in tryptophan include dairy, nuts, seeds, bananas, honey and eggs.
Pair these foods with a little carbohydrate for added benefits. Good example: cereal and milk
Avoid caffeine, chocolate and even decaf coffee
Cut off the caffeine 4-6 hours before bed time
Avoid large meals or large amounts of protein as it is hard to digest
Sleep well 😉 And stay tuned for the benefits of coffee for when sleep deprivation is unavoidable.