Overeating can interfere with your ability to sleep well. The reverse is also true, though: sleep deprivation can lead to overeating. The relationship between what you eat and how you sleep is complex, and it’s a hot topic for researchers and scientists. Here are some of the many ways the two are linked.
How Sleep Affects Hormones
How much you sleep determines more than how well you concentrate at work and at home. It can also alter the hormonal balance in your body. Specifically, sleep can trigger or suppress hormones that heighten or dampen hunger.
Appetite and digestion is a complex process that involves many parts of your body and your brain, but these specific hormones – leptin, gherlin and Endocannabinoid – control how much you eat and when have been linked to how much sleep you get.
- Leptin is a hormone secreted by adipose cells (fat cells) and is known to play a role in hunger regulation. Normally, increased levels of leptin decrease hunger and lower the amounts of food consumed. However, it has been shown that sleep deficit lowers leptin levels, which in turn can lead to increased hunger and overeating.
- Gherlin is the appetite booster hormone, which triggers you to eat. When you are sleep deprived, gherlin levels increase, which then leads you to eat more.
- Endocannabinoid is a naturally occurring substance that regulates pleasure receptors in the brain. This substance is said to be involved in the feeling of well being after aerobic exercise (runners high) and can also stimulate appetite by making eating more pleasurable. Unfortunately, this substance seems to drives cravings for fatty, sugary foods such as desserts and fried snacks. Sleep deprivation and endocannabinoids have been linked together in scientific studies.
What does this mean for the average sleep-deprived person? It’s been shown that sleeping less than eight hours a day leads to overeating the next day, more than 300 calories over normal intake, with most of those calories coming from fat. The takeaway is: insufficient sleep makes you eat more.
Overeating and weight gain can affect how well and how much sleep you get. Eating too much late at night can lead to bloating and physical discomfort that may prevent you falling and staying asleep.
Overeating that leads to unhealthy weight gain and obesity also increases your risk for sleep apnea (a condition that restricts your airflow when you sleep) and this in turn leads to many health concerns, one being lack of adequate sleep.
How to Manage Your Sleep and Eating
Because sleep and eating have a complex relationship, it’s important that you seek out professional advice to get to the reason behind your sleep and eating problems. You can get a jump-start on any medical treatments by starting a sleep and diet journal. Write down when and what you eat and when you go to sleep and wake up. Try and keep a steady schedule in your waking and resting hours and avoid eating large meals within a few hours of going to bed.
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea need professional diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Jeannine Louise Gingras has expertise in the field of sleep disorders and has been treating patients since 1999. Call today to find out more about how sleep disorders can affect your health, and how sleep medicine works, or the make an appointment, at (704) 944-0562. You deserve a restful night’s sleep.