advertisement

Sleep Disorders

06 January 2020

How does missed sleep affect your appetite?

Are you running low on sleep? You might want to catch up on your Zzzs – your waistline might need it.

If you need yet another health reason to get enough sleep, here's one that may wake you up: Science shows that a loss of sleep can make you eat more. And that doesn't mean healthful salads and green veggies.

Studies have shown that total sleep deprivation can trigger a reward system in the brain in response to food stimuli. But until recently researchers didn't know if there was a similar relationship between everyday sleep loss and the brain's reaction to food.

Researchers looked at volunteers who entered a nine-day study period with a built-up sleep debt. Under ideal sleep conditions, scientists were able to show two things: That even small amounts of sleep loss can put the "brain at risk for hyperactivation to food triggers in everyday life, which could be a risk factor for obesity and lifestyle diseases."

These include metabolic disorder, the first step toward diabetes. Yet on the flip side getting the right amount of sleep appears to reduce this hypersensitivity to food stimuli. The study was published in the journal Sleep.

Another study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, added work stress to the mix.

Researchers found that when people came home after a hard day at work, they were more likely to eat their feelings if they were also sleep-deprived.

Simply put, if you don't get enough sleep, unhealthy food choices may look pretty good to your brain.

No matter how you cut it, getting enough ZZZs is not only better for focus, but for your waistline, too.

What's considered enough sleep? For most people that's between seven and eight hours every night.

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules