Lack of Sleep Causes Overeating

Saturday, April 21, 2012
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A new study measures the brain activity of healthy, normal weight adults aged 22-26 to determine the effects of a lack of sleep on appetite signaling in their brains.  The study showed that a lack of sleep causes brain signaling to significantly increase in areas associated with food acquisition.  In other words, if you don’t sleep enough you are much more likely to eat too much food and gain weight.

This study helps prove the point of many earlier studies showing that a lack of sleep, even in children, is associated with weight gain.  This study adds to the evidence, showing that cravings relating to addiction and reward come in to play when you don’t sleep enough.

Food acquisition is required for survival.  When your body is tired, as in the case of a lack of sleep, your cells think they need more energy.  This can trigger powerful subconscious urges to eat.

There are several key points here for any person trying to stay on a reduced calorie diet for weight loss purposes:
1)  Get enough sleep each night or you will really struggle with cravings.  Use enough sleep-helpful nutrients to assist you, as needed, to get that result.
2)  If you do get a poor night’s sleep then understand that you will be at high risk for getting off your diet that day.  Use extra energy-support nutrients early in the day to help offset the lack of sleep, otherwise you may find that you cannot make it through the day without eating too much.

Part of managing your weight is understanding how your body works and why it might crave food.  Nipping sleep problems in the bud, which includes having a schedule where you have the potential to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, is quite important for a healthy metabolism.

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