This great guest post was kindly shared by Tuck Sleep : a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.
You know you need sleep. We all do. But, did you know that when you don’t get enough rest, you’re setting yourself up for diet problems? Without sleep, your appetite and metabolism work against you and your efforts at improving your health.
Sleep Deprivation and Hormone Changes
Your body uses hormones to control everything from the timing of your sleep-wake cycle to food cravings. When you don’t get a full seven to nine hours of sleep, the body releases more of the hunger hormone ghrelin. At the same time, leptin, a hormone that helps you feel full, gets released in smaller amounts.
Together, these changes leave you feeling hungrier than normal while making it more difficult to stop eating. A problem for healthy eating? You bet.
Lack of Sleep and Changes in the Brain
Hormone levels aren’t the only things that change with sleep deprivation. The reward center of the brain becomes more sensitive to candy, chips, and other high-fat, sugary foods. During sleep deprivation, this part of your brain undergoes changes similar to those experienced during marijuana use. Consequently, when you’re tired, you get a similar case of the munchies.
This part of the brain not only becomes more sensitive but the pleasure experienced from unhealthy foods lasts much longer than usual. These changes tend to peak in the afternoon and early evening, which is when many of us are looking for an afternoon snack.
Overall, sleep deprivation puts you at higher risk for unwanted weight gain and obesity. It also leaves you vulnerable to a whole host of other illnesses and disorders like anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and emotional instability.
Improve Your Appetite Control with Better Sleep
But, you’re in luck.
There are many daily habits that can help maintain a healthy diet and fall and stay asleep.
Get Comfortable: A lumpy mattress, flat pillow, or light streaming in your window can all get in the way of your sleep quality. A pillow with the right loft can help keep your spine in alignment as can a mattress that’s supportive of your preferred sleep position. If light from the street keeps you awake, blackout curtains or heavy drapes can help keep things dark and you on target for a good night’s sleep.
Snack Your Way to Sleep: All the food you eat contributes to the quality of your sleep. If you’re prone to late-night snacking, try to eat foods that aid in the production of sleep hormones. Almonds, dairy products, cherries, and walnuts all have nutrients that are used in the production of sleep hormones and make a healthy late-night snack.
Skip the Television: Televisions and other electronic devices can give off a bright blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Some devices have a low light setting that reduces this problem, but others you’ll have to turn them off two to three hours before bed to prevent sleep problems.
Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule: The body loves consistency as it runs on regular 24-hour cycles. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps your brain know when you time the release of sleep hormones.
The success of your diet relies on more than the food you eat. Sleep plays an integral role, and when you make sure to get the rest you need, you’re creating the conditions for diet success.
Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web. Be sure to visit their website https://www.tuck.com for some great information and resources!