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How Does Sleep Affect Your Appetite?

sleep and appetite

Are Sleep and Appetite Related?

Two of the most basic and vital functions of any living being are eating and sleeping. One is incomplete without the other. When we eat right but don’t get proper sleep, our health doesn’t function right. If we get enough sleep but don’t eat right, it makes our bodies malfunction. Food and sleep have always existed together, and now it has been found that sleep, appetite, and a healthy weight are all related.

It’s the same story with most people. Staying up late at night and downing cups of coffee, with no time for a proper meal and definitely no time for exercise. With the modern lifestyle, most people drag themselves through the day, skipping proper meals and physical activity, and consuming sugar and caffeine for energy. The bad news is, these habits aren’t effective at fighting off sleep or fatigue, and can also lead to weight gain and make losing those extra pounds harder.

There is substantial research to prove that short or disturbed sleep increases your appetite for high-calorie foods. This is because the hormone balance changes and alters the appetite. Two hormones in are responsible for controlling hunger, appetite, and satiety.  Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates appetite, making you hungry and crave food, while leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full and sated and suppresses appetite. In people with normal sleep, these two hormones are in balance, working to regulate normal feelings if hunger and appetite. But poor sleep alters ghrelin and leptin balance, leading to a change in appetite.

Sleep also controls glucose production. When a person sleeps less than four hours a night, ghrelin levels go up, and leptin levels go down. This leads to an increase in appetite and food intake. If someone is chronically sleep-deprived and consumes high-calorie food, the calories are likely to be deposited around your stomach, causing belly fat that is known to increase the risk for type 2 diabetes. Known as visceral fat deposition, this happens when the lack of sleep suppresses the release of insulin in response to glucose.

Being sleep deprived for a week at a stretch has been shown to impair glucose tolerance, but making up on lost sleep made the glucose response return to normal. Although there isn’t enough evidence to prove that lack of sleep causes diabetes, research has found a strong link between the two, because getting proper sleep regulates energy levels and eliminates the craving for sugar or carbs, thus keeping blood glucose under control.

If you have difficulty sleeping once in a while and eat plenty of chocolate and French fries the next day for energy, it may not be too damaging. But there is evidence to suggest that you may gain weight if you routinely skimp on sleep and binge of carbs and sugar. This is one of the main reasons why obese people sleep less. Over the last 10 years, there has been an alarming increase in obesity, and this has a link with the marked decrease in average sleep time for the average person over the last 50 years. Fifty years ago there was no Netflix to stay up for. The modern lifestyle has too many distractions that keep pushing sleep to the back burner.

Only watching what you eat will not make it better. Even if you switch to a healthy diet, sleep deprivation will make it hard to get into shape. This is the reason why many people have trouble losing weight despite a healthy diet and exercise. Lack of sleep can counteract all the other efforts to lose weight. Along with physical activity, diet, and recovery, you have to pay attention to the right amount of sleep to be able to lose weight.

For the right balance, you must get proper restful sleep every night. If you wake up several times at night, it doesn’t count as restful sleep. A healthy diet high in fiber and protein and low in carbs is also important. As for exercise, experts recommend exercising early in the day, preferably in the morning. Exercising late in the evening or before bed leads to adrenaline surge and harms proper sleep.

So if you haven’t been getting into shape despite every effort, it is time to catch up on some sleep.


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