The Sleep Diet - Not getting enough sleep can lead to eating too much or too little

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | March 13, 2017

Your sleep affects your diet and your diet affects your sleep.

Did you know that your sleeping habbits can lead to both over or under eating?

The Urge to Eat More

One of the most commonly referenced side effects of sleep loss is overeating. In one study, researchers found sleep deprived participants ate an average of 549 additional calories per day. With the average required calories per day for men and women sitting at around 2000-2500 calories, an increase of more than 500 calories can lead to significant weight gain in a short period of time. It takes 3500 calories to gain one pound of fat, so at a rate of 550 calories/day, insomniacs are likely to gain around one pound per week.

Research has also found that weight gain can be triggered by getting too much sleep. A study conducted by researchers in Canada found participants who got more than nine hours of sleep each night were 21% more likely to experience obesity later in life.

Changes to Your Eating Schedule

In general, most people stick to a consistent eating schedule. It could be three meals a day or six smaller meals a day; regardless, we tend to feel hungry around the same times. Those who tend to push off sleeping until the early hours of the morning, and those who like to sleep in late, will often find their hunger schedule has also shifted.  This shift can lead to overeating at meal times or skipping meals entirely.

Midnight Snack Attack

Late night snacking and sleep deprivation tends to go hand in hand. When you are tired or fatigued your body tends to crave high-carb foods to boost energy levels. So, not only does sleep loss lead to eating more frequently throughout the night and day, it also makes you more likely to reach for unhealthy junk food.

How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need? 

The census offered by the medical community seems to be somewhere between seven and nine hours. As long as you are getting at least seven hours a night, you should be able to avoid the nasty side effects of sleep deprivation. Make sure you are up and out of bed in under nine hours to avoid oversleeping.

The best way to avoid both scenarios is to stick to a sleep schedule that has you in bed at the same time every night and up in the morning at a consistent time too.