It's official: The less you sleep, the more you eat
Can't resist a slice of cheesecake? You sleeping
habits might be to blame.
The less shut-eye a person gets, the
more they eat, according to a new analysis.
This can lead to problems like
obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the long run, the
They explained that a range of
factors come together to cause a person to overeat when they are
sleep deprived. In a paper in the
Journal of Health Psychology, they wrote about how these factors
interact with one another. When
tired, the hormones controlling appetite are affected, so people
feel more hungry.
After a night of tossing and
turning, levels of ghrellin - the 'hunger hormone' which stimulates
appetite - are higher, previous studies have shown.This coincides with lower levels of the hormone leptin,
which sends signals to the brain when fat cells are
full. Tired people also suffer greater emotional stress and
are more impulsive, which leads to comfort eating and the inability
to resist tempting food.
Sleep deprivation makes people more
emotionally stressed and impulsive, leading to comfort
eating. They might also eat more to compensate for a
lack of energy.
Writing in the report, the study's
authors, Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy D Nelson, of the University of
Nebraska, said: 'It is well recognised that food intake is
implicated in many chronic health issues including obesity,
diabetes and heart disease, and diet is often a target of treatment
to prevent the onset of these conditions.
'Understanding the mechanisms
linking disrupted sleep patterns to increased food intake is
important for informing both prevention and treatment interventions
for chronic health conditions.'
They said the amount of food a
person eats is driven by biological, emotional, cognitive and
environmental factors, and these factors are heavily altered
and influenced by how much sleep a person gets.
Though diet is important to consider
in the treatment for chronic health disorders such as obesity and
type 2 diabetes, a closer look should be given to how sleep affects
these factors, they added.
The effect is so pronounced that
health professionals trying to prevent these diseases should
consider changing a person's bedtime habits in order to change
The researchers concluded: 'Health
psychologists should be mindful of the link between sleep and
eating, and sleep should be actively considered in efforts to
modify dietary behaviour.'
Are you having trouble nodding off? For sleep tips
and advice, visit Dr Nerina's toolkit