Yet another article that argues very persuasively that "too little sleep also may affect the food choices we make and how much we eat and potentially contribute to excess intake and eventual obesity."
The article builds on previous lab studies that have found that "shorter sleep was associated with greater hunger--especially for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods--lower levels of leptin (a feel-full hormone), and higher levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone)."
In a study published last month in Appetite, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago classified adult sleepers into four categories"
1) "very short sleepers, who averaged less than five hours of sleep a night;
2) short sleepers, who averaged five to six hours of sleep a night;
3) typical sleepers, who averaged seven to eight hours of sleep a night; or
4) long sleepers, who averaged at least nine hours of sleep a night."
While very short sleepers had the "lowest overall calorie intake, short sleepers consumed slightly more calories than typical sleepers. Compared to typical sleepers, short, very short, and long sleepers had less variety in their diets."
In another study published last month in Appetite, researchers assessed how the "timing of sleep affected dietary patterns in 52 male and female adults who were classified as either:
1) normal sleepers, for whom the midpoint of their sleep was before 5:30 a.m., or
2) late sleepers, for whom the midpoint of their sleep was at or after 5:30 a.m."
Researchers found that over seven days, late sleepers "consumed an average of 248 more calories per day than normal sleepers; the majority of those extra calories were consumed at, and after, dinner."
Late sleepers also reported "higher caloric intake at dinner and after 8 p.m."
They also found that late sleepers made more "poor food choices than normal sleepers--for example, they ate twice the fast food, twice the full-calorie sodas, and about half the servings of fruits and vegetables as normal sleepers."
The researchers concluded that the increased calorie intake of late sleepers "could contribute to a 2-pound-per-month weight gain unless physical activity was increased to compensate."
So how can you help insure that you get a good night's sleep?
First, stick to a regular sleeping schedule, even on the weekends.
Second, darken your room.
And third, limit electronics use close to bedtime.
But, for those inevitable times when you do not sleep well or enough, "when your child wakes up sick, when you are out late at an event, when you travel, or when you have to burn the midnight oil to make an important deadline, " registered dietitian Marjorie Nolan Cohn, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests four strategies to ensure you do not go overboard on your calories:
1. Eat every 3 - 4 hours.
2. Eat protein.
3. Take a rest.
4. Resistance training.
So how did you sleep last night??
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