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Lack of Sleep & Food Addiction – What’s the Link?

Do you wonder why your midnight hunger pangs mostly follow lack of sleep? Till date, if you haven’t bothered much about midnight snacking, you should now start paying attention to the matter. Scientists and doctors across the globe claim to have found a link between sleep deprivation and food addiction. Let’s find out how!


The latest research


A string of studies have been conducted in the recent years on this subject amongst which an article published in the year 2014 by the US National Library of Medicine confirms the link between inadequate sleep and food addiction. The research paper shows that sleep deprivation results in higher responsiveness of the amygdale (a part of the brain) which is directly proportional to increase in appetite. Following this, a parallel research was conducted that inferred: sleep deprived individuals were more inclined to eating high calorie food items.
Another experimental study published in the journal Sleep found an alteration in the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin after sleep restriction upto 4.5 hours for 4 days. A remarkable rise in endocannabinoids (appetite boosting bio-chemicals) was observed in the snacking period. This seems to suggest that sleep restriction might make the act of eating more satisfying than it usually is.


Lack of sleep and eating for fun


According to the Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, a sleep-deprived brain induces opioid-like substances, which increase the risk of eating just for pleasure rather than to satisfy hunger. This study is backed by its publication in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology where similar effects were seen among laboratory rats. Inadequate sleep amplifies the craving for sweet and high-fat junk food. This study has been backed by the National Institute of Mental Health.
According to the Wisconsin Sleep Center, patients with sleep disorders have been observed with remarkable weight gain. Another recent study at Colorado, showed sleep deprived people eat less during meals and more for evening snacks.  


What you need to do


The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. This will help you keep control over what and how much you eat. If you have trouble falling asleep, then you can take some simple steps:
1. Try to go to bed at the same time every night.


2. Keep all light-emitting gadgets (phones, laptops, tablets, etc) away from the bedroom.


3. Reduce ambient light to the minimum.


4. Don’t have a heavy meal before going to bed. Keep at least an hour between dinner and bedtime.


5. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.


6. Listen to relaxing music in bed at a low volume.


By Khalid Md. Saifullah
Editor-in-Chief, Health Companion




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