Ever noticed when you miss sleep you eat more?
A few days ago, it seemed like no matter what I ate, I was still hungry! And I don’t mean just “I want another little nibble of something” kind of hungry, I mean HUNGRY, as in “I could eat a second entire lunch” king of hungry!
I’m pretty familiar with how many calories I need in a day and what types of foods keep me satiated. So this was pretty unusual – I ate as usual, but I was a lot hungrier! What was different?
Then it occurred to me that I was sleep deprived. I’m currently in the thick of planning my wedding and all last week was pretty stressful, leading me to stay up later doing wedding stuff and wake up earlier worrying about wedding stuff (along with the usual things like work, taxes, bills, time management, etc)!
This is a pattern I’ve noticed repeatedly in my own life: feeling tired = higher appetite, along with cravings for junkier foods high in salt, sugar, and fat. Turns out, this is a connection that happens in other humans too!
Less sleep leads to increased caloric intake
There are several research studies that link sleep restriction with increased caloric intake and weight gain:
- Sleep restriction was associated with an increase in caloric consumption with no change in activity energy expenditure
- Short sleep … may predispose to overeating
- Reduced sleep may lead to greater propensity to overeat
- Short sleep duration and/or an altered sleep architecture profile may lead to excess weight gain over time
Less sleep increases hunger and cravings
It seems like when people get less sleep, they feel hungrier and are more susceptible to food stimulus (ie: those fast food commercials!), especially when you combine that with stress:
- Short sleep duration in young, healthy men is associated with … increased hunger and appetite
- Acute sleep loss enhances hedonic stimulus processing in the brain underlying the drive to consume food
- Sleep loss associated with activation of the stress system … may lead to increased hunger and appetite and hormonal changes
When you sleep also matters
Another interesting finding is that timing also impacts metabolism and weight: