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How Less Sleep Stirs Our Appetite For Snacks

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Weight gain can trigger distress that disrupts our sleep, and a lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain.

This is why some people may feel caught in a circular pattern involving stress, worry, weight gain, fatigue, and insomnia.

The way insufficient sleep influences our dietary choices might be partly to blame for this frustrating pattern. Research done by Dr. Erin Hanlon at the University of Chicago indicates that over-tired individuals are more likely to reach for “highly palatable, rewarding snacks.”

Sleeplessness and Snacks

While earlier studies associated lack of sleep with weight gain, Dr. Hanlon’s study provides a possible reason for it. She found that poor sleep stimulates the endocannabinoid network in our brain, and this intensifies the pleasure we get from eating.

Although we use more calories while up and about than when sleeping, the added calories sleep-impoverished people take in by eating more snacks exceeds the extra calories burned by being awake more hours. So, these individuals frequently put on weight. Plus, the additional pounds can lead to increased worry, inactivity, fatigue, and even more problems with sleep.

Temptation Control

Fortunately, with Dr. Hanlon’s insights, awareness can be our ally. When fatigued by insufficient sleep, and remembering how this amplifies our snacking pleasure, we can pause, conger up whatever wisdom remains in our sleepy, sluggish brain, and reach for celery sticks instead of cake.

We should do our best to consistently enjoy quality sleep as well. To stand strong against fatigue-induced snacking most of us require seven to nine hours of sack time each night. These sleep guidelines might be of help:

  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and as dark and quiet as possible.
  • Make your bedroom an electronics-free zone where brain and body can catch a break from daily activity.
  • Establish a sleep routine by getting up and retiring at the same hour each day.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal or snack near bedtime.
  • Become familiar with at least one relaxation technique, such as visualization, or belly breathing, to use on those nights when sleep eludes you.

People also slumber more soundly when they make time for socializing, enjoy their personal interests, and exercise regularly.

Talk to a doctor if any difficulty with sleeping persists. He or she may suggest testing you for sleep apnea, a treatable condition that interrupts normal breathing patterns, disrupting our sleep cycles.

Source: Mayo Clinic; I Heart Intelligence; Sleep Journal; NCBI
Photo credit: Mikaela