Why you crave sugary foods after a short night
This blog post was created by our Sleep Coach Annika Carroll.
Maybe you have experienced this. If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep the next day you are just craving comfort food all day. You find yourself gravitating towards the sugary, carb-laden kind of stuff? Like bagels, lattes, and pastries?
And it seems to be very difficult on those days to make sensible food choices.
Sugar cravings after a bad night’s sleep?
If that’s something that you have wondered about, let’s see what’s the science behind that and why this is happening and how we can actually combat that. Because I think that if we understand what’s happening it might be a lot easier to try and avoid it.
A lack of sleep has a significant impact on our food intake for the following day on multiple levels.
The body craves calorie-dense foods because it is trying to keep you awake for a longer period of time, which consumes a lot of energy. So the body is just trying to get quick energy from carbs
The regulation of your appetite hormones - leptin, appetite-suppressing and ghrelin hunger-signaling becomes impaired. So you actually don’t have a proper signaling in between I’m hungry and I’m full anymore. This leads to you eating more.
Your brain chemistry becomes affected and you lose impulse control and are eating to get a feeling of reward (from yummy comforting foods) and feel better.
The amount of sleep we get has a significant impact on what and how much we eat. A study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2014 stated that "short sleep duration, poor sleep quality, and later bedtimes are all associated with increased food intake, poor diet quality, and excess body weight."
Another very recent study from this year out of the University of Ohio confirmed that people who slept less than seven hours per night “ate higher quantities of snacks with more calories and less nutritional value.”
So, the less we sleep - and they did the study on seven hours or less, the more people snack throughout the day and the less healthy choices they make.
That is how those muffins and pastries get into your belly if you haven't slept well.
So, how can you fix this?
The day after a short sleep (and any day in fact)
Spend time outside - go and get sunlight - as early and as often as you can to reset your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm not only manages your sleep and wake rhythms but also when you should be eating and resting it back to normal will help with the cravings.
Drink enough water with a pinch of Himalayan salt (we need sodium to get water in the cell and stay hydrated on a cellular level).
Eat protein with every single meal even with breakfast to keep your blood sugar stable and avoid cravings: think eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, beans, tofu.
If you want to take a nap, keep it short: 20 minutes before 2 pm. Set an alarm.
There are more and more discussions about how a lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and how support in helping people sleep better is an important component in weight management.
If you’re struggling with sleep, please reach out to us. We’re here to support you in getting your sleep back for more energy and better overall health.