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Can a Good Night’s Sleep Influence Eating Habits?

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getting a good night's sleepJust as important as getting 8 glasses of water a day, so is getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is that important part of your day that you are resting, recovering, and preparing for the next day. So what happens when we don’t get enough sleep daily? Not only can you feel tired at home with your family or even at work, but it can also have a huge impact on the types of food you eat.

What if I said getting a good night’s rest correlates with being able to resist over-eating especially when it comes to high calorie foods? Well, a recent Harvard study suggests just that! The study, led by William Killgore, an associate professor of psychology at Harvard medical school, stated that “Day time sleepiness was positively related to greater hunger and elevated preferences for high calorie foods.”

Throughout the study, MRI’s of participants' brains were conducted and results revealed that sleepier people had less activity in the self-control part of the brain. This means that when you are sleepy it is often difficult to refrain from eating foods you know you should not and will often lead to giving in to cravings more. People almost always crave 3 things:

These can all contribute to weight gain. Sleep is often the first thing people cut out when they get busy--I know that is what goes first for me!  Here are some quick and easy tips for you to try to increase your sleep daily:

  • Be consistent: While aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, aim to go to bed and get up at the same time every day even on weekends. Being consistent promotes better sleep habits and keeps your body in a routine cycle.
  • Lay off the high fat foods before bed: Discomfort from high fat or heavy meals right before bed can disrupt sleep and even cause GI upset during the night.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol before bed: These can often disrupt sleep later on at night leading to waking up multiple times during the night.
  • Your bed is for sleeping (and you know…) only: Make sure your bed is a place to sleep, not to work on the computer or watch TV!
  • Get active: Getting at least 30 minutes of regular physical activity during the day can help you fall asleep faster and lead to a deeper sleep!
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Tags: Healthy Eating

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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