According to scientists, those all nighters we pull might be the reason for weight gain. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered the link between sleep deprivation and those junk food cravings.
They conducted a survey of about 500 women between 20 and 76. What they found was that those who reported poor sleep quality or a lack of sleep also ate more foods high in added sugars, saturated fats and caffeine.
Researchers warn that women are already at a higher risk for obesity and sleep disorders. These are both causes and results of calorific food intake. Foods with added sugars and fats are also linked to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“In our modern society, we oftentimes work late, we eat our meals late and sometimes sleep is kind of put by the wayside in terms of how important it is to our overall healthy lifestyle,” senior study author Dr. Brooke Aggarwal, assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University, told CNN. “Our study really highlights the importance of good, quality sleep for the management of body weight as well as potentially preventing heart disease among women.”
According to women’s responses, 30 percent of them slept fewer than seven hours per night (eight is recommended). Nearly 25 percent said the same but that they also suffered from insomnia. Average sleep time among the entire group was less than seven hours.
The women ended up eating an additional 500 to 800 calories on average, as well as exceeded daily dietary recommendations for saturated fats, added sugars and caffeine. They also failed to meet the mark when it came to healthy foods, such as grains and fiber, according to the NYPost.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are two hormones that help regulate hunger: ghrelin and leptin, both of which are affected by sleep. Ghrelin will stimulate our appetite, while leptin will decrease it. “When the body is sleep-deprived, the level of ghrelin spikes, while the level of leptin falls, leading to an increase in hunger.,” their website explains.
There also another factor at play here. Sleep deprivation starts a process in our bodies that will raise blood level of a lipid called endocannabinoid.
This process acts on our brains in a way that similar to marijuana, which will make eating more enjoyable, especially at night. This will actually increase our hunger for specific types foods like cookies, candy and chips.
“In fact, people who don’t get enough sleep eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared with those who sleep for eight hours,” the website says.
Some studies suggest that eating junk food at this time is known to disrupt sleep and can cause things like heartburn/acid indigestion and could even mess with our metabolism.
So next time you find yourself reaching for the cookies before bed, maybe think about skipping the snack and just get hit the hay earlier.