How Sleep and Healthy Eating Go Hand-in-Hand

Have you ever wondered why some days you find yourself much hungrier than usual, and more specifically craving more calorically dense foods?  There is a high possibility that it is because you aren’t prioritizing the length and quality of your sleep enough!  Many studies have shown a very large connection between the quality of your sleep and the foods you eat.

Why Does this Happen?

Leptin and Ghrelin are two very important hormones when it comes to your appetite.  Leptin, a hormone that is known to suppress your appetite, while ghrelin is a hormone that is known to stimulate your appetite.  When your body lacks sleep these hormones experience irregular fluctuations. In an experiment done at the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, people who changed their hours of sleep from 8 to 5 experienced a 15.5% decrease in leptin and a 14.9% increase in ghrelin.  These results then caused the participants to eat more food the next day which over time increased their BMI.   

What is considered Good or Enough Sleep?

The amount of sleep you need to be considered ‘healthy’ is mainly determined by your age and your genetics.  Your genetics help determine whether or not you are considered a ‘lark’ or an ‘owl.  A lark is also known as someone you functions better in the morning and is usually up early, compared to later in the day.  An owl is often someone who sleeps in and prefers to stay up late, then wake up later in the day.  Your genetics may play a role in your sleep, but your age is much more of a determinant of the length.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, you are recommended to achieve the following hours of sleep depending on your age:

Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours

School- age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours

Teen (14-17 years): 8-10 hours

Young Adult (18-25 years): 7-9 hours

Adult (26-64 years): 7-9 hours

Older Adult (65 or more years): 7-8 hours
  

What Can I Do to Improve My Sleep?

Many things come into play when you are evaluating your sleep.  Staying up late, what you consume (food, drinks, medications, etc.), your environment and most importantly screen time (phones, computers, televisions, etc).  Screens are now seen as one of the biggest factors that affect your sleep.  You are recommended to go without ‘blue light’ for 2 hours before bed.  Being on a screen prior to sleeping not only affects the hours of sleep you will get but you will feel groggy the next morning.  The blue light that is emitted from your screen causes your body to become more aware which makes falling asleep much more difficult.   

Conclusion

As you have read, your sleep is a very important factor when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.  It takes time to get into the habit of prioritizing it more but over time you will begin to see the many benefits it comes with.  With good quality sleep comes a good quality diet!  Obtaining sleep that is consistent has been proven to lead to controlled body weight, better mood, reduced stress, lower blood pressure and many more!   

References

At Harvard Medical School, D., & Educational Foundation, W. (2008). Assess Your Sleep Needs. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/what-can-you-do/assess-needs

Suni, E. (2020, July 31). How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

Dashti, H., Scheer, F., Jacques, P., Lamon-Fava, S., & Ordovás, J. (2015, November 10). Short Sleep Duration and Dietary Intake: Epidemiologic Evidence, Mechanisms, and Health Implications. Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/6/6/648/4555142

Yeager, A. (2019, December 13). Evening screen time can sabotage sleep. Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/evening-screen-time-can-sabotage-sleep

Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004, December 7). Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062

Written by Sela Scott (High School Student), Edited by Doug Klein, Photo From Shutterstock

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