Make Better Food Choices With a Good Night's Sleep

15 Mar 2018 9:13 AM | Anonymous

A recent study showed a relationship between sleep and clothing size, suggesting that insufficient sleep can add more than an inch to your waist. And if you sleep more, your clothing size may go down.

How does sleep change your weight and body composition? The answer is hormones. When you don't sleep enough, the regulation of hormones that manage hunger and satiety is disrupted. When hormones aren't properly regulated, you may struggle to make good food choices.

How Hormones Influence Eating Choices

Sleep deprivation can affect hormones related to weight regulation and hunger. When you're sleep deprived, production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) is increased, and leptin (the satiety hormone) is decreased.

This imbalance suggests to your brain that you may be more hungry and less satisfied than you really are. It encourages consumption of more calories, and a greater potential to make poor nutritional choices.

Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the regulation of cortisol and insulin, other hormones that can influence nutrition and weight gain. Cortisol is a stress hormone that conserves energy as fat reserves so that you can use it as fuel throughout the day. Insulin regulates your body's ability to process food into energy.

Sleep Deprivation and Self Control

Making good decisions can be difficult when you're tired. It's tough to stick to a diet, and you may be more likely to indulge in junk food. One study indicates that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to eat high carb snacks and snack late at night than those who sleep enough.

In another study, people who sleep less than five hours each night are more likely to consume more calories, less water, and more carbohydrates overall. Additionally, acute sleep deprivation may make you more likely to purchase more caloric food, and in larger quantities, so you may set yourself up for failure later even when you're well rested just by having that food available.

Sleeping Well for Good Food Choices

When you sleep well, you're in a better position to make good food choices. But sleeping well doesn't always come easily. Follow these tips to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep:

  • Avoid certain foods before bed. Some foods can make it more difficult to get to sleep or to sleep well through the night. Avoid heavy meals before bed, as well as caffeine, alcohol, and food with high levels of sugar or fat. When you eat too large of a meal or food that's difficult to process, your body devotes energy to digesting instead of resting, which can interfere with healthy sleep.
  • Create a healthy sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is a healthy place to sleep. Your bedroom should be quiet, cool, dark, and comfortable, with a mattress and other bedding that appropriately meets your needs.
  • Make sleep a priority. Even if you have a busy schedule, always make time for adequate sleep. Devote at least seven to seven and a half hours to sleeping each night, adding extra time so you can fall asleep and wake up.
  • Maintain a regular sleep routine. A regular sleep routine can offer predictability and make it easier for your body to recognize that it's time to go to sleep each night. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every night and day, and keep a regular bedtime routine in which you do the same activities before bed every night.

    Written by: Selina Hall. Selina is an expert on sleep health and wellness for She believes that sleep is one of the most important pillars of health. Selina lives in Portland, Oregon. She sleeps best under a handmade quilt passed down from her great-grandmother.

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