How Sleep Deprivation Can Wreck Your Diet


This post is written for JZ FITNESS by a researcher for named Sara Westgreen. Thank you Sara for your contribution with valid points below.

Sleep deprivation can affect more than you might think. While it's obvious you'll feel tired, probably irritable, and may have trouble performing well physically or mentally, there's more to sleep deprivation. It can affect your hunger hormones and even how your body processes food, making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight when you don't sleep well.

Sleep and Self Control

Your defenses are down when you're sleep deprived, and you may find it more difficult to say no to foods you know you should avoid. Your self control is reduced when you're sleep deprived, and you're more likely to eat junk food or snack late at night if you're not sleeping well.

In fact, sleeping less than five hours each night is associated with poor eating habits. Those who sleep less than five hours at night are more likely to consume more calories, carbohydrates and drink less water.

You may snack later at night, eat bigger portions, and have more cravings for junk food. Sleep deprivation can even cause cravings similar to what's experienced with marijuana use. Plus, when you're tired, you're less likely to exercise and work off extra weight from poor eating choices.

Hunger Hormones and Sleep

Sleep affects production of your hunger hormones. When you're sleep deprived, your body produces more ghrelin, the hormone that tells your brain it's hungry and you should eat. At the same time, your body produces less leptin, the hormone that tells your brain you're full and it's time to stop eating. That means when you're sleep deprived, your hunger hormones tell your brain you should eat more and you'll feel less satisfied with each feeding.

Sleep deprivation can also have an impact on how your body metabolizes food. Your body doesn't metabolize carbohydrates efficiently when sleep deprived, so you may experience higher blood sugar levels, which causes increased production of insulin and cortisol. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, which makes it difficult for your body to properly process fat and sugars, storing more of it as fat.

How You Can Improve Your Sleep and Diet

Getting better sleep can help you eat better and have more control over your food choices. It's important to focus on sleep quality for good overall health. Use these tips to get a better night's sleep to support a healthy diet.

  • Eat the right foods for sleep. Certain foods can be helpful or detrimental to sleep. Foods that are helpful for sleep have tryptophan, carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, melatonin, or vitamin B6. These can be found in eggs, nuts, fish, fruits, and vegetables. But some foods can cause sleep difficulties, including food with caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods, and sugary foods. It's especially important to avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. And although alcohol can help you fall asleep, it can result in a more shallow sleep, which is less restorative than deep sleep.

  • Avoid heavy meals before bed. A late night snack can help you avoid waking up hungry in the night, but a large meal before you go to sleep is a bad idea. If you eat a heavy meal before bed, your body's energy is focused on digestion, not a good night of sleep. Limit late night eating to light snacks, and avoid drinking excessive fluids so you won't need to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

  • Exercise, but not too late. Physical activity, and particularly exercise can be helpful for sleep and your overall health. However, exercising too late at night may make it difficult for you to get to sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise within a few hours of bed time so your body can wind down before you go to sleep.

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Overall healthy sleep hygiene can help you get a better night's sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, limit screen time, at night, and make sure your sleep environment is comfortable so you can make the most of your night resting.

Sleep and health go hand in hand. Sleeping well can help you eat well, and vice versa. Focus on your sleep health to support a healthy diet and overall wellness.