Being tired and grumpy the next day seems punishment enough for a lousy night’s sleep, but recent research indicates that chronic sleep disruption might have another unpleasant effect: It makes you overeat.
The paper, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, analyzed how a crummy night’s sleep affected eating habits and other behaviors among both children and adults.
“It is well recognized that food intake is implicated in many chronic health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and diet is often a target of treatment to prevent the onset of these conditions”, the researchers said in a news release. “[U]nderstanding the mechanisms linking disrupted sleep patterns to increased food intake is important for informing both prevention and treatment interventions for chronic health conditions.”
Anyone who has ever struggled with weight or other eating issues knows that what, when and how much you eat can be driven by how you feel, what you’re thinking about and what’s going on around you. Diet can be important in treating chronic health disorders, but the point of this research was to take a closer look at how sleep affects these factors.
After a bad night’s sleep, ghrelin, the hormone that controls appetite, is revved up, emotional stress is greater and the restless sleeper wants food to compensate for a lack of energy. Impulse control diminishes, so your tired self gives in, and eats more.
To learn more about sleep problems, see Patrick’s newsletter, “The Struggle to Sleep.”