How Lack of Sleep Causes Cravings — and How to Deal With It

How Lack of Sleep Causes Cravings — and How to Deal With It

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We’ve all been there…

You have a cruddy night of sleep and the whole next day, you want to eat ALL the food…and for some reason, you never actually feel full or satisfied!

Did you know that not getting enough sleep is one of the top reasons you could be having cravings?

I’m going to break it down for you because knowledge is power! And then I’m going to give you a clear strategy for dealing with it.

Depending on which study you look at, between one-third and half of adults don’t get enough sleep. This matters because your sleep affects two hormones that play a big role in your appetite and metabolism.

First, there’s leptin. It tells your body when you’re full, and it also tells your body when to create energy (i.e., burn calories) to fuel your activities. But when you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have enough leptin! This makes your brain think you don’t have enough energy, which leads to a signal to eat — plus another signal to store the calories you eat as backup for the energy shortage.

The bottom line: low leptin levels can make you feel constantly hungry and slow down your metabolism.

Then, there’s ghrelin, which is almost exactly the opposite of leptin — its levels actually rise when you don’t get enough sleep. Too much ghrelin can make you feel hungry and slow your metabolism.

You can see how leptin and ghrelin can set you up for a cycle of cravings and weight gain, right?

Fun fact: this leptin/ghrelin process could date back thousands and thousands of years, to help our ancestors survive long, cold winters. During the summer, when nights are short, it would help their bodies store energy. And during the winter, when nights are long, those calories would be burned off as needed energy!

But what does this mean for modern-day you?

It makes getting enough regular, quality sleep – 7-9 hours a night – super important.

Tracking your sleep is a great idea. A sleep tracker like the ones on many fitness devices (like FitBit, Apple Watch, Whoop, etc.) will not just let you know how much you’re sleeping, but also the quality of sleep (light, deep, restless, etc.).

Plus, knowing why you are having cravings is a big help in putting them in their place. If you find that you are having cravings because you didn’t get enough sleep, take action to minimize them!

→ Make sure you eat enough protein, the most satiating nutrient. For best craving-crushing results, have a protein-rich food at every meal.

→ Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. (For a 150-lb. person this is 75 ounces)

→ Go to bed early if at all possible!

If you need help with strategies for your healthy lifestyle, or accountability to keep you on track, I’m here to help!  Click here to schedule a free discovery call and let’s chat about your goals.

Thomas Fitness Consulting was launched in 2017 after Laura Thomas decided to fulfill her dream of helping professional women and expecting and new mothers find strength and energy through movement and accountability support. She currently serves the greater Westlake and Broadview Heights areas in-person and also offers virtual coaching. For more information, visit thomasfitnessconsulting.com.

About the author

Laura Thomas
Thomas Fitness Consulting was launched in 2017 after Laura Thomas decided to fulfill her dream of helping professional women and expecting and new mothers find strength and energy through movement and accountability support. She currently serves the greater Westlake and Broadview Heights areas in-person and also offers virtual coaching. For more information, visit thomasfitnessconsulting.com.

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