- Sleeping well can be beneficial for your metabolism
- Lack of sleep can increase cravings
- Not sleeping well can affect your decision making
You might have already known or experienced by now that there are many factors that affect your hunger- say the type of food, cravings, your emotions, and physical activity. But, did you know that your sleep patterns too can have a direct impact on your hunger instinct? Speaking of instincts, 5 types of them govern your relationship with food- hunger, food availability, calorie density, familiarity, and variety. The instinct of hunger can be easily disrupted by external or environmental factors like lack of sleep.
Here's how disrupted sleep has a major role to play in defining your relationship with food:
1. Increased appetite
Lack of sleep is directly related to an increased appetite and overeating. Your hunger is neurologically regulated by 2 hormones- leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite while leptin suppresses it. When you are sleep-deprived, the levels of ghrelin spike while leptin levels go down- leading to an uncontrollable appetite which may lead to wrong and unhealthy food choices and thereby causing weight gain.
2. Increased cravings
When you are sleep-deprived, your body judges it as a state of stress causing the release of cortisol- also known as the stress hormone. This hormone also increases the appetite especially causing the cravings of sweet, high-fat, salty, junk foods. High levels of cortisol also leads to lower muscle mass and increase in fat mass. The fat accumulation is more prone at the abdominal region.
3. Decreased metabolism
Healthy sleep is closely connected with metabolic processes of your body. It can even lead to a chronic condition called metabolic syndrome which is the triad of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high accumulation of fat around waist/belly region. Metabolic syndrome is also known as syndrome X and it can lead to health complications like heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.
4. Difficulty in following a healthy diet
Lack of sleep can truly impact your decision making skills whether you are eating food or buying food. The emotional turmoil as a result of sleep deprivation can make it difficult for you to stick to a routine or to follow a healthy diet opening up the door to a host of chronic conditions like obesity or diabetes.
How to improve sleep and thereby control the hunger instinct:
Your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle or the circadian rhythm. Developing healthy habits and following a sleep routine can not only impact your quality of sleep but also overall health. Here's what you can do:
Focus on eating small, portion-controlled meals throughout the day to avoid bed-time sluggishness.
- Finish dinner before 3 hours of hitting bed. Avoid eating high-fat, heavy food items at dinner time.
- A cup of chamomile tea right before bed helps lead to peaceful sleep. Turmeric milk is also an excellent sleep stimulant.
- Make sure to stick to an exercise regime, but not within 2-3 hours of bedtime as hormones produced by exercising can keep you awake.
- Avoid alcohol in any form before sleeping.
Point to note
Make sure you are getting your 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night as it is crucial for your body and brain to function optimally. Sticking to a basic sleep routine with healthy diet, exercise, and stress management can play a huge role in determining your health and well-being.
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
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