Why skimping on sleep could add on extra weight
Did you know that a good night's sleep is the secret
ingredient to slimming down your waistline and boosting overall
health? When you don't get enough sleep, your hunger and appetite
increase, leading you to eat more.
Lack of sleep causes hormone
imbalances, specifically the hormones that manage hunger, appetite,
and blood sugar levels. When you sleep poorly or sleep less, it
affects your brain in a way that amps up your appetite for
high-fat foods, according to new research recently published in the
journal Scientific Reports.
In the study, researchers
tracked 34 sleep-deprived men in a sleep lab for five
days and four nights, monitoring them around the clock to
observe what they ate. On the first night, all participants slept
for eight hours, but were not permitted to sleep a wink during
the next three nights. The researchers also monitored 12
men who slept regularly throughout the study, and
they administered daily MRI scans to monitor
everyone's brain activity.
The MRI scans revealed that
sleep-deprived participants ate about 1,000 extra calories at night
when they were awake. By day, they ate about the same number
of calories as they'd eaten after a full night's rest, which
means they didn't eat less to make up for the overnight surplus.
Obviously, if you're awake for more hours, you have more hours to
be hungry. But researchers noticed something more surprising: sleep
deprivation changed the kind of foods people ate. They
consumed more calories from fat and fewer calories from
Brain scans of the participants
found that sleep deprivation super-charges the brain's
"salience network," which connects sensory stimuli - like
high-fat foods that look and smell delectable - to signals
of pleasure, which ultimately guide your
Are you struggling to get to
sleep? Here are the top five tips to improve sleep from our sleep
expert Dr Nerina:
- Read a book, listen to relaxing music, have a bath and use some
relaxing essential oils such as lavender to help promote
- Turn off all technology such as iPads or TV, an hour before bed
and use this time for less stimulating activities.
- Try and avoid caffeine, and large amounts of
food (especially sugar and carbohydrates) within three hours of
bedtime, both of which can disrupt sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine, especially late in the day.
Although some people think alcohol helps with sleep, it actually
disrupts sleep and leads to more nighttime awakenings.
- Sleep on a comfortable and clean mattress, bedding, and
pillows. Make sure your mattress is supportive and that it has not
exceeded its life expectancy of about 10 years.
For more sleep tips from Dr Nerina,
visit our Sleep Toolkit.