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How Sleep Alters Your Food Choices

Are you gaining weight and you don’t know why? Maybe you’ve been particularly hungry lately, and you’re just not sure what is going on. While many things can affect your sleep and hunger levels, it’s worthwhile to take a look at your sleep.

Most people don’t think about getting more sleep when they are feeling extra hungry or trying to lose weight, but it turns out that rest is closely connected to how hungry you are, how your body handles what you eat and, in the end, how much you weigh.

Sleep and Hunger Hormones

Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, regulate your appetite. Leptin goes up when your blood sugar rises, indicating that your body is satiated. Ghrelin goes up when your blood sugar sinks, telling you that it’s time to eat. When people are chronically sleep deprived, their leptin tends to be lower and their ghrelin higher, which means that sleep may regulate your appetite and that you may feel hungrier when you aren’t getting enough rest. Eventually, this can cause unexplained weight gain.

Rest and Portion Size

Tired people choose larger portion sizes than their well-rested counterparts. While the hormones mentioned above likely have something to do with this, they also seem to do it just because it feels good. Researchers aren’t entirely sure what drives this increased appetite, though. Some suspect that the body is just trying to get more energy - the energy it should have gotten from getting more sleep. Others think that being tired feels miserable, so people eat more, in part, to make themselves happy again. Either way, sleep deprivation means taking in more food, which can ultimately end in weight gain.

How to Get More Sleep

If you would like to get more sleep, there are some easy things you can do. All of these won’t be necessary or helpful for every person, but you should find at least one or two suggestions that might help you.

  • Look at your sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and the right temperature for promoting sleep.

  • Get a comfortable, supportive mattress. Try out mattresses at a store or during a trial period to make sure you’re getting one that will work for you.

  • Avoid rich food, alcohol, and caffeine in the hours before bedtime. All of these can stimulate you to wakefulness or interrupt your sleep.

  • Turn off all devices with screens. The blue light they emit can tell your brain to stay awake, rather than letting it sleep.

  • Put yourself on a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time in the morning.

  • Develop a bedtime routine. Over time, this will give your body external triggers that it is time to rest.

You don’t have to let your sleep affect your appetite and your weight. Invest some time and energy into sleeping more, and you may find that you look better and feel better, too!

Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. For more information on sleep health, resource guides on better sleep, and reviews of sleep products visit Tuck.com