How Sleep Can Affect Your Food Choices

Sleep deprivation can affect you in many more ways than you might first assume. Getting too little sleep each night can do much more than simply leave you feeling sluggish and grumpy the following day. Lack of sleep can actually contribute to your weight gain. The reality is, resting a bit more and getting few extra hours of sleep, may actually help you shed away a few pounds and increase your overall health.

When you pull an all-nighter, and know that you are going to have to power through with very little sleep, you know that you are going to need provisions. For many people, this means junk food, unhealthy sugary snacks, and caffeine-heavy drinks. These are the food choices people often reach for when they know they are going to be working through the night or driving a long distance and need to stay alert.

While these food choices can be negative for your health and your weight, there are ways in which your sleep affects your eating patterns without you even noticing. Studies have shown that when you lose three hours of sleep, the next day you are likely to add at least two hundred calories to your diet to compensate. Your brain knows that your body is low in energy, and energy is obtained through calories. Therefore, if you have not allowed your body to properly recoup and rejuvenate through sleep, your brain may begin to crave a higher amount of calories to correct the problem.

A recent study at Columbia University in New York showed results would suggest that sleep deprivation not only caused the brain to crave more calories, but to seek out unhealthy foods like sugary and grease-laden foods. Some participants slept for four hours, while others slept normally. Each group was shown pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods. The pleasure-centers in the sleep-deprived subjects responded more to the unhealthy foods, while the other group responded equally to each type of food.

Because lack of sleep also affects your ability to focus and think clearly, it can be argued that making smart food choices using critical thinking skills also become much more difficult. It is for these reasons that it is crucially important to the health of your brain and body to get a great night’s sleep. If you are tossing and turning in the night, stop suffering and correct the problem as soon as possible.

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