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Calorie Count Blog

Does Getting Less Sleep Make You Eat More?


By +Elisa Zied on Nov 08, 2012 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

By Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN


It’s no surprise that so many of us fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis to meet our needs. According to several recent studies, not getting enough zzz’s has become pervasive in America, with a substantial jump over the last three decades. One recent governmental study estimated nearly one in three working adults in America sleep for less than six hours a night.  

Of course it’s inevitable that our sleep will be shortened or disrupted at least once-in-a-while—especially for those of us who are parents, if we have a demanding boss, or when enjoy a late night out with friends or a significant other. But while losing sleep from time to time can certainly sap our energy, make us feel sluggish, and make it more of a challenge to concentrate whether at home or at the office, not getting enough zzz’s on a regular basis can have more far-reaching health and other effects, and make it tough—if not impossible—to maintain a healthful body weight, in large part because it can make us eat more.

In a new article published in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers reviewed 18 original intervention studies published between 1996 to 2001 to see how being partially sleep deprived—sleeping four to six hours a night—affected energy balance and body weight. Specifically, they wanted to see how partial sleep deprivation affected hormone levels that, in turn, could affect energy intake and body composition (lean muscle and body fat). They also looked at how not sleeping enough could affect energy expenditure.  

After analyzing all the studies, the researchers identified a set of patterns, especially those that involved certain hormones. For one, they found reduced insulin sensitivity. Normally, the hormone insulin usually rises after a meal in order to transport glucose (from the meal) into body tissues; then, insulin levels usually go down. But when there’s insulin resistance, there’s an inability to send glucose into body tissues and therefore insulin levels stay elevated.  

The researchers also found increased levels of ghrelin. According to registered dietitian Marjorie Nolan Cohn, author of an upcoming book on the subject, “Ghrelin is your primary hunger hormone. When you’re hungry, ghrelin is released from the lining of your stomach and circulates through your blood to your brain to let you know you’re physically hungry.” But Nolan Cohn says ghrelin affects more than just hunger. “It also functions within the pleasure/reward center of the brain, plays a role in memory formation, immune function, and even in sleep,” says Nolan Cohn.    

Along with higher levels of both insulin and ghrelin, the researchers found lower levels of the hormone leptin. Normally, leptin reduces appetite. Decreased levels can therefore contribute to increased appetite and energy intake.   

Although we need more data to fully understand how limited sleep affects calorie intake, energy expenditure, and body composition—and the specific effects of hormones on those variables—Rachel Begun, MS, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, “This study shows that getting enough sleep on a consistent basis—and not just focusing on diet and exercise—may prove to be an important part of the weight management equation."  

To help you get a better sleep, Begun recommends sticking to a regular sleeping pattern. “It’s important to go to bed and wake up at nearly the same time every day, including weekends,” she adds. She also suggests turning off all screens—televisions, computers, cell phones, and tablets— at least one hour before bed, as blue light can keep you up. You’ll also find some helpful diet and fitness tips to help you sleep in my recent post for US News and World Report’s Eat + Run blog. 

But what if it’s too late—what should you do when you haven’t slept much or well and need to get through the day without sabotaging your healthy eating habits?  

“If you do feel hungrier than normal, eat foods rich in protein and fiber with all meals and snacks; these nutrients keep you satisfied longer and keep hunger at bay,” says Begun, She also recommends avoiding alcohol and caffeine too late in the day to help you get back on a healthy sleep track. Finally, Begun warns against going to bed too hungry or too full. “Feeling satisfied but not stuffed at bed time can help you fall asleep easier,” she says.

Your thoughts...

On an average night, how many hours of sleep do you get?  How well do you sleep?

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and award-winning author of "Nutrition At Your Fingertips," "Feed Your Family Right!," and "So What Can I Eat?!." She is also a past national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For more information, go to www.elisazied.com.   Sign up for the free weekly ZIED GUIDE™ newsletter for nutrition tips  and news you can use (go to right side of home page at elisazied.com).   Follow Elisa on Twitter/elisazied and on Facebook.

 

 



Comments


The Article is good but i want a suitable diet chart so that my weight which is currently 68 can be reduced to 56 (Ideal for my height).

 

Please help me out.



So what about the population that works nights?  I myself, work nights, and can't get around the "sleep deprivation".  What do you recommend for us?
I pack good healthy foods (veggies, fruits, salads) for dinner and snack.  I also workout when I get off work.  In addition, I might get 3-4 hour naps that may total to 6-8 hours.  When they speak of sleep deprivation, are they talking about the lack of a 6-8 hour interval of sleep?

 



Since the seasons have changed, & there's less daylight in the morning, i seem to be getting closer to 8 hrs. of sleep. During the spring & summer where daylight is getting longer, i seem to get about 6 hrs. of sleep. I do not like having my bedroom darkened, so i have blinds in the windows where daylight comes in & slowly wakes me up.

At times i don't sleep well. I'm in Menopause (53 yrs.old), so the hot flashes keep me awake, i have insomnia about once or twice a month, & i might have sleep apnea. At times i wake up where i feel like my breathing has stopped. I've never been checked out to see if i have this though.

I do believe that lack of sleep does cause weight gain. Mainly because you are awake more hours, not that energetic & tend to resort to comfort foods. Also, i agree that working the night shift also puts on weight. I worked the night shift (5:30pm - 2:30am) for 25 yrs. & have gained weight. Again, because of lack of sleep & not eating healthy. Now i am retired from that work place & trying my best to lose weight. I'm at least 20 lbs. less than when i was working there. Smile



Original Post by: neuromom

So what about the population that works nights?  I myself, work nights, and can't get around the "sleep deprivation".  What do you recommend for us?
I pack good healthy foods (veggies, fruits, salads) for dinner and snack.  I also workout when I get off work.  In addition, I might get 3-4 hour naps that may total to 6-8 hours.  When they speak of sleep deprivation, are they talking about the lack of a 6-8 hour interval of sleep?

 


Although 6 to 8 hours is ideal, you may be getting enough sleep to meet your needs by getting two super long naps. do you feel well rested? I know for those who are sleep deprived (eg don't get a long stretch), a 20-30 minute nap has been shown to be helpful in helping people recharge. I guess only you will know if you're truly getting enough sleep to meet your needs by how you feel. It's great that you're exercising and making time to sleep, even if not for long intervals at one time.



To answer the title of the article YES!  I usually eat terribly if I don't sleep well the night before.

The best way I know to avoid this is to be constantly drinking water.  It truly helps.  Also, I turn on my 3 hour alarm on my phone and I don't eat until that thing goes off.  I have my food preplanned, too.  And since I'm only eating half meals like in the Half Meal Habit, I usually don't have over-eating issues.  It's usually "choice" issues, lol.

Even with bad food choices, I'm not eating huge amounts so I typically don't suffer on sleep-deprived days.

Jim

Eat half meals of all your favorite foods and lose weight without suffering.



Ironic, all day I've been struggling because I am so tired. It seems like I never get more than 6 hours of sleep anymore. It's been forever since I've felt rested. Chronic sleep deprivation definitely affects the amount of concern I have for dieting--I don't feel like I have the energy to be hungry AND tired.



Original Post by: neuromom

So what about the population that works nights?  I myself, work nights, and can't get around the "sleep deprivation".  What do you recommend for us?
I pack good healthy foods (veggies, fruits, salads) for dinner and snack.  I also workout when I get off work.  In addition, I might get 3-4 hour naps that may total to 6-8 hours.  When they speak of sleep deprivation, are they talking about the lack of a 6-8 hour interval of sleep?

 


If you have an option to change it would be best.  Your best health working such a schedule is not the same as it would be with a better one.

That said stress is a killer to health as well so if you can't change it try not to stress as you can be perfectly healthy with that schedule it just won't be as good as with a better one.

I highly recommend

http://www.jackkruse.com/blog-index/

Read The Leptin Prescription starting with the post on the bottom and working your way up.

I would also recommend reading up at

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/

He is a big biohacker trying to get the best out of less sleep and such.  You might be able to find something on his site about how to get ideal sleep in less time.

http://www.jackkruse.com/brain-gut-6-epi-paleo-rx/

This is a great food post. 

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Science-Research-Program-Results/ dp/0071597174/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352397170&sr=8 -1&keywords=body+by+science

Great exercise.

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Science-Research-Program-Results/ dp/0071597174/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352397170&sr=8 -1&keywords=body+by+science

Ron Rosedale has quite a bit on Leptin in his book as well The Rosedale Diet.



You are not getting enough sleep- if you look up sleep cycles- you need a continuous sleep for 90 minutes per sleep cycle- there are 4 sleep cycles. If you possibly can- you should be awake at night because you need to work- then sleep during the day. It's important not to change your habits - i.e. it's bad to get sleep here and there- it's important to be regular in your sleep/wake cycle. Plus you should get those curtains that fully block out sunlight. This is how you can live a healthy life while having to work nights. 



Good light blocking curtains and/or blue blocking sunglasses, or facemask is a good idea.

You want absolutely no in eyes or on skin preferably while sleeping.  It stops the production of melatonin that  you need for optimal sleep as well as other hormones associated with sleep.  This is why you need to avoid eating anything within four hours of sleep.  It is possible to have small amounts but not much at all.  Its best just not to have anything at all with calories close to bed time.  Water before bed is of course fine and perhaps a small amount of white tea or something without calories.  White tea does have some caffeine but very little and shouldn't do anything...I think...this might very from person to person depending on how sensitive to caffeine you are.

Just water close to bed time would be the best though if you don't want to experiment.



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