How Sleep Could Reduce High-Calorie Cravings
We've all had those days where all you think about are sweets.
Maybe you aren't a sweets person, so you think about some chips... You know, a nice family-sized bag of Doritos.
Whatever your bane is, having a craving for them means more than your free will to want them... There's a chemical reason to it.
There's one thing that I can personally attest to; whenever I don't get enough sleep, I want bad food.
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The Science of Sleep
Many of us put sleep low on the priority list. We would rather stay up binging on Netflix than catching some beauty rest.
Hopefully, after you read this article, you will put more priority in getting a solid sleep every night.
There are several studies out there that link sleep deprivation to weight gain. In fact, a study in particular, found that women who slept fewer than six hours per night were at a significantly higher risk of gaining weight compared to those who slept seven hours.
Another study revealed that participants who were sleep-deprived showed stronger preferences for high-calorie foods. Participants requested foods that were 600 calories higher than the foods they wanted when rested.
Your sleep habits play a significant role in your health.
Dr. Charlene Gamaldo is the medical director over at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep and she notes that sleep deprivation interferes with our appetite-regulating hormones and it decreases our willpower.
Fatigue impairs nucleus accumbens, which is the reward center of the brain; it leads to addictive behavior. Our prefrontal cortex is what controls inhibition.
When we are deprived of sleep, our brain starts to seek rewards. You know, that feeling you get when you make a cupcake disappear. Gamaldo says that she's not surprised to hear the new research that links sleep deprivation with increased calorie consumption.
Lack of Sleep Is a New Risk Factor
A 2018 study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed around 42 participants who were a normal weight for four weeks.
Half of the group slept 5-7 hours per night, while the others were told to increase their sleep by an additional 1.5 hours per night.
Would you guess that those who slept longer actually reduced the amount of sugar in their diets the following day? They decreased their intake by as much as 10 grams of sugar.
The added sugars we eat are linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that we limit our added sugar to less than 10% of our total caloric intake. So about 200 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet.
We average about 13% of our daily calories from added sugars... and I know some who are much, much higher.
New research shows that getting enough sleep could control our cravings. This would keep our intake and weight in check.
It really makes a difference. Try it.
One study shows that people who sleep longer consumed fewer carbs and less fat. Looking at the results from this study, researchers are calling sleep deprivation a "newly identified modifiable risk factor for obesity."
You're getting fat because you don't care about sleep. It leads to the snowball effect of poor dietary choices, no energy to exercise, and cravings all day.
Put More Emphasis on Your Sleep
We know there is a link between sleep deprivation and increased calorie consumption. It's very well documented. Remember Dr. Gamaldo from earlier?
She doesn't recommend crawling back in bed if you crave something sweet.
There is no evidence that oversleeping will cause your cravings to stop.
Everyone has a different amount of sleep. While most people need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but some may need as much as 9 1/2 hours.
Find where your optimal point is so that you can get enough sleep without having to fight sugar cravings all day.
Start a Journal
Keeping a journal is one of the best investments of time you'll ever have.
Track how you feel, how long you slept, note if you tossed and turned. Make note of everything. Being able to understand your body and learning how to listen to it is an important skill.
Keep a Schedule
You probably have a time that you wake up during the week and then a free for all - or at least significantly later - on the weekends, right?
While catching up on rest is great, once you find the amount of sleep you need, you should stick to a sleep schedule. Whatever time you choose, doing that every single day will help your circadian rhythm.
This is how some people can wake up without an alarm. It's an acquired skill that takes a lot of consistency.
Wrapping It Up
Sweets are awesome. And it's okay to like them.
Enjoying a reasonable amount of sweets, even daily, is something that can be part of a healthy lifestyle. What hurts our progress is when we put in hours at work, go to the gym and do our best to eat... and we rob ourselves of sleep.
Sure, sometimes you need to burn the midnight oil; but that's also what makes you crave those warm, soft, ooey-gooey fresh baked Boston cream pie donuts.
Get some sleep.