Collaboration post with sleephelp.org
Adults should get a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night, yet many people find themselves getting far less. Without adequate rest, your mind and body work in ways that leave you vulnerable to any number of illnesses and diseases. When you’re trying to make good food choices, your body needs sleep to regulate appetite.
Sleep Deprivation and Your Appetite
The reasons for lost sleep vary from stress to unpredictable work schedules to medical conditions like sleep apnea. Changes in the brain due to sleep loss lead to the systems in your body altering how they interact and function.
The brain slows down when it’s tired. Your ability to reason, think critically, and respond quickly diminish. While your brain’s working at slower speeds, the number of hormones critical to regulating your appetite change. Sleep regulates when and how much of the hormones are released.
Ghrelin: The stomach releases ghrelin to tell the brain when you need to eat. During sleep deprivation, ghrelin levels rise, which means you feel hungrier than usual. You might not notice a difference until the mid to late afternoon and evening, but hormone changes will leave you searching for snacks more often than usual.
Leptin: Your appetite also relies on the hormone leptin to tell you when you’ve had enough. Leptin levels go down when you’re tired. The feeling of being satiated isn’t as strong when you’re tired. Additionally, your response to it is usually delayed, which means you’re more likely to continue overeating.
Reward Center of the Brain: Your hunger goes up, your satiety response goes down, and sleep deprivation causes the body to crave high-fat, sugary foods. Chips, cookies, and candy hit the reward center of the brain every time you eat them. However, during sleep deprivation, your brain receives even more rewards than usual. That makes these unhealthy foods more satisfying and appealing than they would be under normal conditions.
The changes that take place in the body during sleep deprivation make it easy to see how weight gain and lack of sleep go hand in hand. If you’re truly looking to make a difference in your overall health, rest must be a priority.
How to Get Better Sleep
Your sleep hygiene, all the habits in your life that affect your sleep, can make or break the quality and quantity of sleep you get each night. There are the obvious factors that affect sleep like a high-quality mattress that supports your preferred sleep position, and then there’s the less obvious like what you ate for breakfast. Check mattress reviews to make sure you’ve got the right one for you and see the tips below for guidance on eating healthy.
With the right combination of habits, you’ll find yourself better prepared for a good night’s rest and the deep sleep you need to stay on track to a healthier you.
Consistent Wake-Up Time: Waking up at the same time every day, even weekends, supports healthy circadian rhythms. Your body relies on a regular schedule to time the correct release of hormones that make you feel energized or tired throughout the day.
Regular Exercise: Regular exercise has a whole host of benefits, but when it comes to sleep, a well-exercised body is more tired at the end of the day.
Healthy Breakfast: A well-balanced breakfast gives you the energy boost you need first thing in the morning and starts your daily eating cycle. Some studies have suggested that eating your biggest meal at breakfast supports weight loss. Whether it’s your biggest meal or not, you definitely don’t want to skip this one.
Regularly Spaced Meals: Your circadian rhythms like consistency and regularly spaced meals keep your circadian rhythms in line.
Time to Stop the Caffeine: Coffee, soda, and energy drinks may get you moving in the morning, but they’ll keep you up at night. Stop drinking stimulants about mid-afternoon to prevent sleep problems.
Short Nap: A short 30-minute nap is enough to lessen the effects of some sleep deprivation and gives your body a chance to recharge in the middle of the day. Keep your naps short so they don’t interfere with your regular sleep cycle.
Light Healthy Dinner: Dinner can have a big impact on your sleep. Keep it light and try not to eat within a few hours of bedtime.
Right Atmosphere: Keep your bedroom cool (60-68 degrees), dark, and quiet.
Consistent Bedtime: Going to bed at the same time every day helps your brain send your “sleep” signals at the same time every day. When you keep a regular schedule, you’ll start feeling tired at the same time of day and find yourself easily drifting off to sleep.
About the author:
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.