Have you ever heard of obese people suffering from insomnia? Or sleep-deprived people binge eating their way into the unhealthiest of foods? This is probably one of the most common sights you can witness all around. In fact, occasionally, all of us have fallen prey to the effect of sleep deprivation on eating cycles.
When our sleep cycles are thrown off track for even a day, we tend to lose control over our appetite, thereby hogging away at anything that comes our way. What do you think is the link between insomnia and overeating? Why is it that obese people are often quite sleep deprived and insomniacs, obese? Let’s find out.
Understanding the link between insomnia and overeating:
Recently, a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Clinical Research Centre brought to light the link between insomnia and overeating. In this experiment, 14 students including young men and women volunteered to have their sleep and diet routines studied.
In phase 1, the subjects spent around 7.5 hours sleeping each night while in Phase 2 they were given only 4.2 hours of sleep, on an average. In Phase 1, the volunteers showed little to no change in their diets. However, in Phase 2, they significantly showed high levels of hunger despite being given the daily dose of food in their required quantities.
This goes on to say that lack of sleep does increase hunger levels in almost everyone. This happens mainly because of two hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin induces hunger in your system while leptin gives you the feeling of satiation after your meal. Due to the effect of sleep deprivation on eating cycle, ghrelin levels rise uncontrollably while leptin levels drastically go down.
How can you address it?
Now that you know what causes overeating, it is now time to understand how to stop overeating. Having such occasional diet swings is healthy but making a habit out of it resulting in obesity or mental disorders is sheer folly. So, here’s what you can do at the grass root level.
1. Control overeating urges:
True that this is easier said than done but, now that you know the link between insomnia and overeating, you need to take initiative. Whenever you feel like your body is craving more food than usual, take some time out and ask yourself, “why so?”
Notice a pattern as to when your body behaves like this. Does it happen when you are under stress, sleep deprived, or simply hungry? Whatever the answer is, study it and address the root cause of the issue. Once that happens, you will know yourself as to how to stop overeating.
2. Monitor your diet:
Instead of having 3 large meals a day, opt for 4-6 small meals. This way, your hunger pangs will be satisfied at regular intervals and this practice is good for your overall digestion as well. Take in plenty of protein, fibre, and complex carbs so that you feel satiated for long.
Fruits, fruit juices, and fluids like coconut water also help. Your brains tend to function less efficiently due to lack of such nutrients and providing your body with it will only you set your mind and body in motion for the day.
3. Get enough sleep:
Getting enough sleep is one of the major solutions you can possibly provide yourself with. If you are already feeling your body give into overeating urges because of sleep deprivation, you are actually starving your body of sleep.
In this case, start off by getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. Keep this up for a week. You can then move on to 6-7 hours each night as your schedule allows, but anything less than that is bad for your health.
4. Eat healthily:
The craving for food that sets in when your body is sleep deprived is usually the craving for junk food. Feeding your body with junk and oily food items will only worsen your condition further. Instead, opt for healthy food full of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
This will not only keep your body in good shape, but leave you feeling satiated for long so that your hunger pangs are watered down. Chapatis, fruits, eggs, and meat are good sources of such nourishment meant for breakfast and lunch.
Overeating is more of a result of psychological imbalance than a physical one. So, if you are looking to get rid of your overeating habit, try getting more sleep instead. Meditation also helps calm down your nerves and impart a sense of relaxation and peace.
Let the hormones come into play here and your overeating habit will be long gone. Sure, there is a very strong link between insomnia and overeating, but it can be kept under check. All you need to do is make amends for getting enough sleep, pick a daily practice that suits your case, and keep at it until it becomes a strong habit.