Can Bad Sleeping Habits Lead to Poor Dietary Choices?

April 25, 2014

Eating in Bed

Did you know that your food choices for the day may have been predetermined the moment you lay on your mattress the night before? Studies have shown that there’s more to the correlation between sleeping and eating habits than timing and digestion. Just as how what you eat and the time you eat them can affect the quality of your sleep, the opposite is also true.

Insufficient sleep per se doesn’t cause weight gain. Rather, it influences our dietary choices, and in a bad way at thay. You can blame it on bad sleeping habits if you’ve been eating way too much unhealthy junk. When we don’t allow our body to rest, various chemicals and hormones begin to protest and create havoc in our system. To be more specific, lack of sleep:

Increases 2-arachidonoyl glycerol

2-AG is part of the endocannabinoid system, which, to put it simply, takes part in certain physiological processes, including memory, mood, and appetite. If you ever find yourself unable to think clearly, hungry, and irritable at the same time, your endocannabinoid system could be off. High 2-AG also enhances the rewarding feeling you get from food, which is why stuffing yourself after a sleepless night feels like heaven.

Emma Stone

Increases ghrelin levels / Reduces leptin levels

Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger while leptin makes you feel full. High levels of ghrelin and low levels of leptin is a bad combination. An increased appetite is not necessarily bad, but when paired with the inability to feel full, you’ll be consuming much more than you need. You’ll keep eating past your normal limit because you don’t have the hormones to tell your brain you’re full.

Increases cortisol levels

Cortisol increases appetite. Even worse, it makes it harder to burn off excess fat.

Reduces insulin sensitivity

Insulin is a very powerful hormone, and can either aid in fat loss and build muscle, or it can store too much fat. In layman’s terms, higher insulin sensitivity means your body will be using the insulin more effectively.

Overall, you’ll have less self-control when it comes to food and you’ll crave calories (normally in the form of carbohydrates and sugar, like pizza, burgers, donuts, ice cream, et c). No joke, sleep deprivation, along with lack of physical activity, has contributed to the increasing numbers of overweight or obese people in America according to the CDC. And it makes sense, doesn’t it, considering how sluggish and starving you get after just one night without enough sleep?

You know you’re doing something wrong when your own body starts to work against you. Along with your appetite and weight, your immune system will also be compromised. Doctors recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, while children ages one to ten should have eleven to thirteen hours to reap the benefits of growth hormones. To be safe, aim for at least eight.

If you’re still eating badly and still can’t catch enough Zs, don’t fret! There are multiple methods you can try to get your biological clock right back on track; it’s only a matter of discovering which one works for you.

Sweet Dreams and Bon Appétit!

Patrick Star