Crushing Your Cravings After A Bad Night Sleep

  • Crushing Your Cravings After A Bad Night Sleep

    BY Catherine Sissons | ON Thursday, 19 October 2017
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    Sleep is important for many biochemical reactions in the body. It affects your body weight, your immunity and of course it affects your hormone balance that controls your appetite.  The body is made up of 70% water content when optimally hydrated so even a slightest change in hydration can alter your appetite.

    Your hydration will depend on what state your body is in as well as the food you eat and how much water you drink each day. Sleep alters your hydration and the natural balance by increasing the appetite increasing hormone called Ghrelin.

    A Chicago University study found that Ghrelin (hormone that increases appetite) increased by 28% in people that had less than seven quality hours sleep per night. Leptin (satiety hormone) decreased by 18% under the same conditions. It was deemed to be linked to survival instinct that animals only stop sleeping to find food. 

    This links to your fight or flight response as part of your stress cycle and can cause you to have higher cortisol levels. I have addressed elevated cortisol in other weeks and how it can also lower your immune system.

    This can change your energy pathways so that your body is looking for instant energy foods that take less effort for the body to absorb that are made from flour or sugar. This has a flow on affect and can cause a hunger cascade throughout the day after a bad night sleep.

    If you are also stressed (sometimes the result of not being able to sleep) your hormones will also be altered causing you to feel like instant energy foods. 

    Often if you are tired you are less likely to have the energy to cook or feel like a meal with the balanced food groups.  You do need to be kind to yourself after a bad night sleep and prepare for the worse in the way of eating the next day.

    Accept that your body is naturally going to gravitate to the refined non nourishing food and see what you can do by adding in nourishment along the way.  There are ways you can counter balance lack of sleep however your tastes might be programmed differently so this method is not always fool proof.

    When you wake up you are essentially breaking the fast from the night before after a quality night sleep and your appetite increasing hormones indicate that you need fuel first things. If you then fuel yourself with a coffee or caffeine drink your liver gets the message to release sugar (glucose) as fuel from your body storage. 

    This instant energy gives you a quick boost but you are soon looking for the next quick fix to pick you back up again about one to two hours later. Next time you are really tired try your best to have a glass of water and then choose to eat food that is higher in water content such as a mandarin, banana or apple as a starting point. Keep in mind you also need to add protein to help lower the glycemic impact (how fast your fuel is processed) and squash your appetite. 

    Choosing a food that contains insoluble fibre (NOVA hard fruit and vegetables) will also help sustain your appetite. A full list of these are outlined in my book 'Wet Your Appetite - The Secret to Eating Guilt Free.

    You can try the NOVA Savoury Breakfast Cakes because eggs are a great option to eat when you have had a bad night sleep. They are 12% protein (anything over 10% is helpful for suppressing your appetite. 

    In reality we are less likely to feel like nutritious food after poor sleep and the hunger cascade will only deteriorate as the day goes on and you reach for instant energy foods. 

    So try your best to remember to have food that has a high water content, contains protein, some carbohydrate and also hard texture first so that you get your insoluble fibre to help lower the glycemic impact of your foods. 

    A 'Berocca' first thing if all else fails can help and your body will choose to use what vitamins it needs or wants and will discard the rest through your visits to the bathroom.

    There is nothing better than solving your sleep patterns if that is what is keeping you up. If you have small children this can be challenging and does require an element of survival.

    However if it is stress that is keeping you up or waking you up in the night it would pay to see a sleep specialist to help iron out the triggers that are causing you poor sleep. Meditation can also be a helpful tool for sending you into a deeper sleep phase. 

    The long term results of poor sleep can be weight gain because your body goes into a state of energy conservation instead of energy burning even if you are eating healthy food.  This is something to think about if you are trying to prevent weight gain over the colder months.

    The other link to less sleep and increased body weight is that people that are feeling tired are less likely to cook for themselves.  This can result in less control over the cooking processes, portion size of food, kilojoule density of the meal.   If you would like to have your meals planned and be supported over winter check out the Winter Set Menu Club here.

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