A recent study showed a relationship between sleep and clothing size, suggesting that insufficient sleep can add more than an inch to your waist. And if you sleep more, your clothing size may go down.
How does sleep change your weight and body composition? The answer is hormones. When you don't sleep enough, the regulation of hormones that manage hunger and satiety is disrupted. When hormones aren't properly regulated, you may struggle to make good food choices.
How Hormones Influence Eating Choices
Sleep deprivation can affect hormones related to weight regulation and hunger. When you're sleep deprived, production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) is increased, and leptin (the satiety hormone) is decreased.
This imbalance suggests to your brain that you may be more hungry and less satisfied than you really are. It encourages consumption of more calories, and a greater potential to make poor nutritional choices.
Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the regulation of cortisol and insulin, other hormones that can influence nutrition and weight gain. Cortisol is a stress hormone that conserves energy as fat reserves so that you can use it as fuel throughout the day. Insulin regulates your body's ability to process food into energy.
Sleep Deprivation and Self Control
Making good decisions can be difficult when you're tired. It's tough to stick to a diet, and you may be more likely to indulge in junk food. One study indicates that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to eat high carb snacks and snack late at night than those who sleep enough.
In another study, people who sleep less than five hours each night are more likely to consume more calories, less water, and more carbohydrates overall. Additionally, acute sleep deprivation may make you more likely to purchase more caloric food, and in larger quantities, so you may set yourself up for failure later even when you're well rested just by having that food available.
Sleeping Well for Good Food Choices
When you sleep well, you're in a better position to make good food choices. But sleeping well doesn't always come easily. Follow these tips to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep: