Lack of sleep triggers junk food cravings

When’s the last time you could say you “slept like a baby”?

For many of us, getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep a night is a pipedream.

But according to a small study out of the University of Chicago, being deprived of sleep will give you more than just a foggy head and bags under your eyes.

It’ll give you “the munchies” – actually making it chemically impossible to resist junk food!

And if you’re struggling with your weight – or a serious issue like diabetes – that could be a big problem for your health.

Researchers found that lack of sleep causes spikes in a brain chemical, called endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

That’s a mouthful, to be sure, but here’s what you need to know. 2-AG actually increases your joy of eating – and not healthy foods, either. It makes you crave sugar, fried foods, and other junk.

Researchers followed 14 young, healthy volunteers over the course of eight days. Half the time, they were allowed to get roughly seven to eight hours of sleep; and the rest of the time, they were limited to just four hours of sleep.

On the days following less sleep, the 2-AG levels in their bloodstreams rose and remained high throughout the evening hours.

The end result? They were less likely to resist unhealthy treats, didn’t feel full after a big meal, and scarfed down twice as much food that was bad for them.

The good news is that this same group of people who overate after too little sleep were able to control their urges for junk food when they were well rested.

So getting a good night’s sleep can be the secret to keeping your weight in check and even preventing disease. And, fortunately, there are some easy ways to do that, like:

• Staying active during the day: Light to moderate exercise will help you snooze better at night.

• Keeping a regular schedule: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will train your body to know when it’s time to sleep, and for how long.

• Powering down: Don’t watch TV in bed or read on any type of screen for at least 15 minutes before sleep time.

• Using Natural sleep aids: Supplements like L-theanine, or 5-HTP can help work with your body’s natural chemistry to shut down for the night. They’ve been proven to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Editor
Nutrition & Healing
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Sources:

Lack of Sleep May Give You the ‘Munchies’, published online, nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157511.html

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