Energy and Addiction (Part 2): How Sleep Effects Food Addiction

Categories: Food Addiction

tired womanWe have already established in the previous post that our energy level affects how we manage our food addiction.  In order to solve this dilemma, we need to recharge and revitalize ourselves by getting the right amount of energy that our body needs.  One way to restore our energy levels is through getting a good night’s sleep.

This post aims to explain the link between sleep and food addiction, and give you tips on how to sleep better.

 

 

Importance of Sleep

Some people regard sleep as nothing but idle or wasted time.  But the fact remains that sleep is too important to take for granted or forego.  Why?  Here are six reasons:

  1. Appetite – did you know that lack of sleep changes hormones that influence your appetite?  In addition, deficiency in sleep causes changes in how our bodies store or deal with what we eat.
  2. Disposition or Temper – everyone knows that lack of sleep causes grumpiness.  Apart from that, you also get easily annoyed, and can’t seem to think straight.  You also become too tired to do the things you want to do.
  3. Heart health – too little sleep is said to be connected to problems with erratic heartbeat, and high blood pressure.
  4. Medical maladies – lack of or no sleep affects your immune system.  As a result, your body’s soldiers might not function well to protect your body against ailments.
  5. Memory – according to studies, the right amount of sleep helps the brain retain information better.  Based on research, those who sleep after being taught something, do better when tested soon after.
  6. Overall Wellbeing – sleep affects our safety too.  For instance, you might doze off while driving or commit an error while operating on a patient.  Lack of sleep causes slip-ups that do not only affect you but others as well.

 

The Link Between Sleep and Food Addiction

Now that we have learned why sleep is important, let us zero in on the topic that is close to our heart – the connection between sleep and food addiction.

According to research, sleep influences how our brain chooses the food that is appropriate for the body.  Why or how could this be?  As stated in several studies, lack of sleep affects parts of the brain responsible for our appetite and eating habits.

Based on tests, brains that have inadequate sleep positively reacted to foods that are unhealthy.  Also, too little energy caused by sleep deprivation lessened the brain’s capacity to make sound judgments.  This pushed the brains to pick unhealthy food over the healthy ones despite the knowledge that doing so will cause their health to detoriate.

Inadequate sleep causes our hormones to function improperly .  Ghrelin is a hormone that fuels appetite.  Leptin, on the other hand, is a chemical that sends signals to the brain signalingthat your body is sated.  When you are fully rested, your ghrelin is normal and your leptin is stable.

But when you have insufficient sleep, ghrelin levels will rise abnormally and leptin levels drop therefore making you want to just eat until you can eat no more.  Now, this just spells disaster.

Apart from your hormones going haywire, your body becomes too tired.  Your body has already used up energy to fight off the addictive poison from your body and now it needs more energy to fight off the temptation to chomp and gorge on more food.  Now what should you do to get more energy?  Get sufficient sleep.

 

How To Sleep Better

If you want to battle your food addiction, you need to have more energy.  To have more energy, you need to have an adequate amount of sleep.  But what if you don’t sleep well at night?  Here are some things that you can do to sleep better:

sleeping man

  1. Check your bedding.  Maybe the reason why you are not sleeping well is because you can feel springs or points here and there.  If that’s the problem then you might want to go shop for a new mattress.  According to experts, mattresses should be replaced after about seven years of use.
  2. Look into techie beds.  You might also want to keep abreast of the changing mattress technology.  The market offers beds that can be adjusted according to your preference for firmness.
  3. Redecorate.  Maybe your room is crawling with posters of stars or bands that you detest.  Or it probably is decorated with adornments that no longer suits you.  Get rid of anything that you think is an eyesore as this will only cause unrest.  Make your space comfortable and your own.
  4. Eat three hours before you hit the sack.  This is especially important after having eaten a really heavy meal since the stomach requires more digestive time.
  5. Do not go to bed hungry.  A complaining tummy will keep you awake at night so you might as well eat something before you sleep.  To avoid this, eat a light snack one hour before sleeping.  It’s also important to refrain from carbohydrates-rich food.
  6. Decaf only please.  Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening.  You already know that caffeine has properties that give you a jolt that is only helpful in the morning.  If you really want to drink coffee at night, stick to the decaffeinated version.
  7. Do not drink water or any liquids right before you go to bed.  Not that it’s bad but it disrupts your sleep when you need to get up just to pee.  Please change this habit.  If you really want to quench your thirst, try a cup of warm milk  for relaxation.
  8. Shower.  Doing so hours before your sleep cleans and relaxes your body.
  9. Prepare.  Remove annoying garments, and change into something comfortable.  Snug pajamas or soft socks (if you like wearing socks while sleeping) will do wonders for you.
  10. Keep your room dark.  Our body has an internal clock that manages our time of inactivity and activity.  We call these clocks the circadian rhythms.  When you are exposed to sunlight or any kind of light, your clock tells your body that it is NOT time to rest or sleep.  But when you are in a dark room, your body produces sleep-inducing hormones called melatonin.  These hormones help you sleep and stay asleep.
  11. Remove any other light sources.  Possible sources include flashing and bright lights from clocks, monitors, LEDS, and even windows. Please refer to the explanation about the circadian rhythms above.
  12. Eye masks are useful.  If there’s no way to remove residual ambient light, use eye masks to keep your surroundings dark.
  13. Put on some music.  Some people sleep better with sounds or music in the background.  You can play sounds of the beach, waves, wind, or just the sound of your fan or air-conditioner may prove relaxing.
  14. Sweat it out.  If you just sit all day or not do anything strenuous, this might be the reason why you can’t sleep at night.  We sleep so our body can recover from all the stress and fatigue  acquired during the day.  But if there’s nothing to repair, then the body does not have a reason to sleep well.  to remedy this, you can work out in the morning BUT NOT BEFORE YOU SLEEP as this will only keep you wide awake.
  15. Maintain a schedule.  Wake up and sleep at the same time every day to keep your circadian rhythm undisrupted.  If you alter your sleeping time by just an hour, your body’s internal clock will be disturbed.
  16. Try a different position.  Refrain from sleeping on your stomach as this causes pain.  If you sleep on your side, try putting a bolster between your legs to prop up your hips.  Use a pillow that’s neither too thin nor too thick.  If you want to sleep on your back, put a pillow underneath your legs.
  17. Meditate.  Most often, problems, stress, or diseases keep us up all night.  If this is the case, you can try meditating before you sleep.  You can light some scented candles and soothing music.  Close your eyes and take deep breaths.  After about 20 minutes to an hour, slowly put out the lights.  If meditation does not relax you, consider consulting a sleep specialist.

 

Conclusion

In order to avoid food addiction, we need to get around the problem with low energy levels.  One way of doing so is through getting an amazing quality of sleep at night.  There are various things that you can do to promote an environment that is conducive for sleeping.

For more information about food addiction, please read the rest of this site or shoot me an email.  I’ll be glad to respond to your queries.

Good luck and take care!

 

 

References

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eatingwell/could-you-be-addicted-to-_b_828270.html

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/sleep-obesity1.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/sleep/art-20048379

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock

http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/c/circadian_rhythm.htm

Doriet von Fircks

About the author

Doriet von Fircks is a health practitioner and a nutrition expert.
She specializes in food related problems, such as food addiction.
After reading many articles about food addiction, especially lots of scientific journals, she realized that there was hardly any discussion about food addiction from a scientific perspective.
She updates the site frequently, ensuring that the latest scientific findings are always featured on FoodAddictionScience.com. If you have questions about this site or suggestions for improvement, please feel free to contact her.