Not getting enough sleep? This is how many extra calories you may be eating
Have you been getting enough sleep lately? Not surprisingly, new research reveals that people consume more calories than usual when they’re tired. But exactly how many calories, you might ask?
In the study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers examined previous data from multiple studies comparing people who were sleep deprived, which researchers considered to be sleeping only 3.5 to 5.5 hours per night, to those who got ‘enough’ sleep, or 7 to 12 hours a night. They found that the sleep deprived group consumed an average of 385 extra calories per day!
“Sleep is crucial to weight management,” says Tricia Ligon, manager of the Advocate Medical Group Weight Management Program at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “People who experience sleep deprivation also experience reactions in their bodies, such as insulin resistance at a cellular signaling level and increased glucose, insulin and cortisol.”
More than one-third of Americans are not getting enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends at least seven hours of sleep per day for adults. Dozing for less than seven hours could put you at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Perhaps contributing to that risk, the researchers also found that sleep deprived individuals consumed more calories from fatty foods instead of from protein.
“People who are sleep deprived may also experience a decrease in plasma leptin and an increase in ghrelin, which in turn increases hunger and appetite, especially for high-carbohydrate foods,” says Ligon. “Even a single night of total sleep deprivation can influence energy expenditure and metabolism.”
To avoid the cravings and extra calories that might come with less sleep, Ligon recommends doing your best to get a better night’s rest. Some tips to incorporate into your daily routine include:
- Less screen time: Try to reduce the overall amount of time spent with devices AND try to eliminate screen time for at least two hours prior to bed time. Keep “blue lights” (cell phones, computers, TVs) out of your sleeping area.
- Make sure you bedroom is conducive to sleep – dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
- Physical activity: Try to incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine. Walking, yoga or any moderate intensity activity will do.
- Flex the NO muscle: Avoid eating before going to bed. Just like screen time, if you can complete your daily caloric intake one to three hours before bedtime, sleep will be more restful and productive.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Avoid caffeine consumption starting in the afternoon.
- Don’t drink alcohol in the evening.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.