Most of us know that experts say adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, but many of us aren’t getting it. According to the CDC, about 35% of Americans regularly miss that mark. And not sleeping well doesn’t just leave you tired, it can also make it tougher to eat well.
Registered dietitian and nutrition expert Samantha Cassetty breaks down why sleep is so important to your diet:
- It may help you control your sweet tooth - A study looking at the impact of extra sleep on eating habits used healthy participants who regularly sleep between five to seven hours a night. None of them got dietary counseling, but the group that was given sleep recommendations and strategies to get more shut eye did get slightly more sleep and cut their added sugar intake by 10 grams a day.
- It could ease cravings - When you’re sleep deprived, it actually alters the way your brain sees food, increasing activity in areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. As a result, you may have stronger cravings for sweets and snacks and have a harder time controlling them.
- It changes your perception of healthier foods - A recent study finds that after a night of sleep deprivation, it was easier for participants to make less healthy food choices and they were more likely to choose high-calorie foods.
- It adds to overeating - Thanks to an increase in the hormone ghrelin, you feel hungrier when you don’t get enough sleep. On top of that, it takes longer to feel full because of lower leptin levels, and research shows that exhausted people tend to eat bigger portions than when they sleep well.
- It may help you manage your weight - A new study on adults who chronically sleep less than six and a half hours a night finds that those who got sleep hygiene counseling and started sleeping an extra hour and a half cut their daily calorie intake by 270 calories. Researchers predict that alone could lead to a 26-pound weight loss over three years.
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