Studies show there is a correlation between Sleep duration and waist circumference. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, those who are regularly sleeping 6 hours or less (short sleepers) are reported to be heavier and have larger waists than those who are regularly sleeping 7-8 hours (normal sleepers).
Sleep Prevents Overeating
Sleep helps maintain a hormonal balance that is in charge of regulating your appetite. These hormones control your food intake by either sending signals to your brain that you are satisfied or releasing hormones that stimulate appetite.
Those of you who are sleeping 6 or less hours likely have an imbalance in the hormone that regulates your appetite and evidence suggests that this imbalance increases appetite. In contrast, those of you sleeping 7-8 hours have balanced hormones that promote the feeling of hunger in the morning and satiety in the evening. This is certainly true for me. When I am tired due to a short sleep, I find that I am hungry all day. It is as though my body is trying to make up for the lost sleep, through finding energy in food.
Sleep Helps Curb Cravings
The Journal of Internal Medicine noted that short sleep resulted in a 30% greater desire for calorie-dense foods, such as cake and potatoes. The increased caloric intake could relate to as much as 350-500 excess calories per day, further influencing the risk of obesity.
If you aren’t getting 7-8 hours of sleep, this is likely why you feel as though you cannot control your cravings. I know that I have a much harder time turning down office junk food when I have had less sleep. I am simply less motivated to keep a clean diet and will be grabbing what is easily available and right in front of me. Clean eating requires food prep and when you are tired, that’s the last thing you feel like doing.
Sleep Reduces Stress
The stress reducing hormone is restricted during short sleep. Those that are sleeping 6 hours or less have increased stress. Typical of the human body, stress promotes hunger.
Yet another way that short sleep impacts the judgment of your food intake. Without a doubt, I am absolutely more stressed if I have had a couple of short night sleeps in a row.
Short Sleep vs. Normal Sleep
I have personally gone years of continuous short sleeping of 5-6 hours a night and I can tell you that it absolutely wears on you. With short sleep, I felt stressed, which made me feel like there was never enough time in the day. On top of that, I was making poor food choices and then feeling guilty later on that I was not able to control what I ate that day. Now that I have experienced the difference that sleep makes in my life, I make 7 hours of sleep per night a priority. I am a night owl by nature, so this by no means comes easy for me. Having experienced the positives and negatives encourages me to keep a schedule and actually follow through with going to bed when I plan to. There are nights that I might hit the 6 hour mark instead of the 7, but about six out of seven days, I am sleeping the recommended number of hours.
For those of you not getting 7-8 hours of sleep, I challenge you to try it out for two weeks and see how you feel!
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