Lack of Sleep Causes Excess Carbohydrate Consumption

Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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Lack of Sleep Causes Excess Carbohydrate Consumption
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Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, new information on sleep and diet patterns fit together nicely. Fail to get enough restful sleep and the next day you will crave and eat too many carbohydrates1 – even getting drawn into the evil of snacking. That is the conclusion of researchers at the University of Chicago, who studied the sleep and diet patterns of healthy volunteers under laboratory conditions.

This information synchronizes well with other research indicating that carbohydrate cravings come about partly due to your body's need to repair itself. Your stomach's carbohydrate craving hunger signal, called ghrelin, also helps trigger the release of growth hormone in your body, which is needed to repair wear and tear.

Growth hormone is naturally released at night while you sleep, in harmony with proper leptin function. When you have done a good job following the Leptin Diet during the day, you set the stage for proper growth hormone release during sleep, and thus feel better rested the next morning – as long as you sleep seven to eight hours.

If you cut sleep short then your body does not have adequate time for repair. This means it will try to fix itself during the next day if it can. To do this your body must release growth hormone during the day, which is not the preferred time, and this requires stimulation from ghrelin in order to work. Unfortunately, ghrelin makes you crave and eat carbohydrates.

If you get enough sleep then not only do you maximize your prime nighttime fat-burning mode but you also prevent daytime excess carbohydrate consumption. Part of the issue is just making sure you make adequate time for sleep. Nutrition can also enhance your quality of sleep, as described on my Sleep Health Topic page.

If you've had too little quality sleep realize that you are at risk for eating too much. Extra calcium that day, like Calcium AEP (three to four at a time as needed) can help tame ghrelin. Extra Pine Nut Oil (two to three at a time as needed) can boost full signals. You can use either or both of these remedies, as needed, to help keep yourself on track.

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