Thursday, 17 September 2015

How does lack of sleep affect your diet?

Lack of sleep makes you crave high energy drinks and snacks; Image by

You had another late night working on the urgent report or driving long hours to avoid the traffic. Next day you feel tired, irritated and need something to pick you up! Surely chocolate and a coffee will do the job. But two hours later you feel hungry again and decide to grab a chicken tikka from the freezer. Complete with fine company of Ben & Jerry's you finally feel satisfied - only for another 3 hours! Should I mention that exercising is way out of the question? What's wrong? Why everything feels turned on it's head and you can't beat the cravings?

It's familar feeling and we've all been there. Lack of sleep can disturb your bodily functions, including metabolism and hunger. Studies show that when you don’t get enough sleep it affects your body’s ability to metabolise food properly. Lack of sleep interferes with the production of two important hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which help regulate your metabolism and hunger levels. Leptin suppresses hunger and lets your brain know when your stomach is full. Ghrelin stimulates your appetite, slows metabolism, and decreases your body’s ability to burn fat (levels of ghrelin normally increase before meals and decrease afterward).

We crave comfort foods when deprived of sleep; Image:

Sleep is the time when you restore these hormones ready for the next day. It's a bit like charging your phone. By skipping sleep (advisory 6 hours) your body cannot recharge fully. Therefore some functions are a bit wacky the next day.

Once in a while it's harmless, but if it happens 3 times a week or more, you could notice changes to your waistline. If you work irregular hours, try to sleep when you can - even during a day. Your body needs the sleep to restore itself so don't ignore it. And if the cravings come, have something high in energy, like toast with peanut butter and banana or a trail mix. Use smaller bowls and plates to make your portions look larger - fool your brain! Also drink plenty of water, especially before the meal. Go easy on yourself, tomorrow's another day, and you can continue with your healthy eating habits then.

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