When it comes to our weekly priorities, sleep has become one of the least concerns. Trying to balance a 48-hour workweek, family activities, chores, and a social life can leave us putting sleep at the very bottom of our “to-do” list.
In 2008, 1 in 10 adults were obese, and women were more likely to be obese than men! Researchers have attributed this obesity epidemic to the overall reduced sleep duration of men and women today. Both laboratory and epidemiological studies are providing growing evidence that short sleep duration and poor sleep quality are risk factors of obesity and fatal health diseases (Beccuti, G., & Pannain, S.).
When you lose out on sleep, your body’s hormones go haywire! Appetite increases, and you get bombarded with feelings of hunger throughout the day. Here’s what happens chemically: Leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite and encourages the body to expend energy, is reduced when we lose sleep. Our body loses the ability to feel satisfied with eating. Meanwhile, ghrelin, the hormone that triggers feelings of hunger starts getting produced at higher levels causing us to feel hungrier. We are more likely to consume more calories throughout the day, especially at night when the body’s metabolism slows down.
“I Want Sugar!”
While we’ll wait to discuss in a later blog post how sleep deprivation can affect cognitive functions, when it comes to eating, sleep deprivation can lead you to make impulsive decisions when it comes to junk-food desires. You see that grease-laden burger and fries and justify to yourself why you should eat it even though the justification may be irrational. When you’re tired, your cognitive reasoning abilities diminish, and you’re more likely to make diet compromises that can be damaging to your health.
Here’s the solution: Aim to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and keep a sleep journal to track how much sleep you are averaging per night! Life is short and precious, and getting the correct amount of sleep is essential because it helps you become the best YOU! Sleep will help you enjoy life again and increase your productivity. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep, and school-aged children need the most sleep with a recommended 10 hours or more.
You may also want to consider using melatonin sleep aid which comes in pill and liquid form. Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. As a supplement, it is often used for the short-term treatment of sleep deprivation.
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Beccuti, G., & Pannain, S. (2011). Sleep and obesity. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 14(4), 402–412. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109