Research links lack of sleep with unhygienic conditions like overeating, poor food choices, and weight gain. A new study discovers that people who sleep inadequately have amplified blood levels of a chemical that stirs up the joy you feel when you eat, especially, sweet, salty, or high-fat snack foods.
The Journal Sleep has the findings of the respective study published in it. The results of the study clearly showed that sleep-deprived participants couldn’t resist highly palatable and satisfying snacks including cookies, candies, and chips. However, the participants were fed with a meal supplying 90 percent of their daily caloric needs just two hours before.
The study further notifies that the after-effects of sleep-loss on appetite were mostly evident in the late afternoon and early evening. These were considered the prime times for tedious and unnecessary snacking that leads to weight gain.
How does sleep affect your eating habits
Dr. Erin Hanlon is a research associate in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the University of Chicago. According to her, sleep restriction boosts a signal that increases the pleasure and satisfactory sensations gained from eating or food intake. She further explains that sleep deprivation enhances the endocannabinoid system. This is the very same system that marijuana targets to elevate the desire for food among its consumers.
The respective chemical signal, mentioned above, is called “endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).” The levels of 2-AG usually stay low at night, rise in the morning, and are at peak during the early afternoon. A person lacking sleep has his 2-AG levels high throughout the evening.
According to the researchers, high levels of 2-AG is what makes the people crave for foods high in carbohydrates and fats. In fact, the researchers also revealed that the participants consumed twice the amount of fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods as compared to what they would have eaten if they had a full eight-hour sleep.
Hanlon further added that each added hour of wakefulness uses about 17 extra calories in the body. Calculating it for the four hours of lost sleep, a person uses 70 calories. However, the participants of the study made up for the missing calories by consuming more than 300 extra calories.
Summing up the whole story, sleep-deprivation leads to unhealthy eating behaviors which cause a person to gain excessive and unhealthy weight.
How to maintain healthy sleep schedules
To maintain healthy schedules of sleep, you can follow the tips below. These will not only protect you against weight gain but also guard you against the complications associated with it.
Increase your exposure to bright or sunlight during the day because it helps your body to work with nature’s clock. Your body will know at what time to rest and what to work.
Reduce your exposure to blue light at night. Blue light is a common daylight. Exposing yourself to blue light may fool your body into thinking that it’s time to stay awake. Your phone, gadgets, and other digital screens emit blue light. So, you must limit the use of such gadgets at night for a better sleep.
Try not to drink caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine keeps your brain alert and awake. It may be great during the morning when you have to be ready for a new day. However, drinking it late at night can disturb your sleep cycle.
Try to avoid daytime naps. You disrupt your sleep cycle by sleeping at irregular times. The naps, people usually take during the day, shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes. Power naps, undoubtedly, improve the functioning of your brain. However, too much of it is bad for you.
Try to be consistent. If you start a regular schedule of work and sleep, stick to it! Sleeping and waking up at consistent and regular hours will surely establish a pattern, within days, which your body can easily follow.