According to a new study, there is a direct connection between binge eating and sleep deprivation.
In the study, the scientists examined 24 women on two different nights in a sleep lab.
First, the subjects were allowed to sleep as long as they would on a typical night; on the second, however, their usual sleep time was shortened by a third.
After both nights, the participants were asked about their feelings of hunger and had to complete a series of tasks. They were asked to eat meals and snacks in amounts of their choosing as a reward.
The result of the study is astounding because it shows how much sleep and cravings seem to be connected.
little sleep more likely leads to binge eat
The researchers found that even a small reduction in sleep can lead to hunger pangs and bigger food portions.
Robin Tucker, study author and professor of nutrition at Michigan State University, stated that the tests also showed that participant’s cravings for sweets and chocolates were higher after insufficient sleep.
Study model more realistic than other studies
Previous studies had suggested that appetite is disturbed when you get only half the recommended sleep or no sleep at all. However, these studies do not apply to everyday life. After all, we usually sleep a few hours less rather than sleeping only three or four hours.
That’s why the sleep of the participants in the new study was only shortened, in which they went to bed 60-90 minutes later than usual and woke up 60-90 minutes earlier than usual.
This reduction is more realistic for most of us and could result from, for example, an extra episode of a show combined with an early meeting at work. That’s more likely to happen than staying awake all night.
More weight from little sleep?
Hunger pangs, larger portions, and cravings for sweets all these factors increase calories intake and weight gain.
Previous studies by the nutritionist had already shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a night prefer a sweeter taste. According to Tucker, this is probably because sleep affects the way our brains work.
Indeed, foods rich in fat and sugar activate the brain’s reward centers – a relic of times when we were cavemen, and food was scarce.
And insufficient sleep puts these reward mechanisms on high alert, making you even more likely to eat such foods.
In the future, the expert hopes to find ways to minimize the effects of insufficient sleep on food intake. For example, would an early morning workout help? Or perhaps a 20-minute nap?
How to deal with hunger pangs
Through her extensive research on human hunger pangs, Tucker was able to pin down strategies to avoid binge eating.
When you eat, focus on it – and don’t let TV, music, or video games distract you from it because that leads to eating larger meals and eating more snacks afterward.
If you can avoid multitasking while eating. Take the time to enjoy the food. This will help you feel full and prevent overeating.
If a craving for something sweet or fatty hits, she also recommends waiting about 20 minutes before giving in to it. You’ll probably forget about your cravings as soon as you’re busy doing something else.
If you still really want it after 20 minutes, take your time eating it and enjoy it to the fullest.