Today, cheap and abundant foods surround us. But the question is, are these foods really good for us? Unfortunately, they’re not. In fact, most of the readily available foods are junk and most people crave them. However, getting more sleep may just be a solution to beat junk food cravings.
It is a fact that eating whole foods such as fruits and vegetables helps alleviate food cravings. Complement it with the power of imagination and it becomes a powerful and natural way to fight junk food cravings.
But there’s another weapon everyone has as a defense against junk food cravings, and it’s simple as getting more sleep. Getting and maintaining quality sleep is essential for health and well-being. And, another good and healthy reason to get more sleep is a valuable tool to beat junk food cravings.
A study by the researchers of the University of Chicago finds that not getting enough sleep can increase junk food cravings up to 45%. That is a high number especially that the foods crave for include unhealthy ones such as bread and cookies.
Why More Sleep Help Beat Junk Food Cravings?
The findings of the study say sleep restriction or deprivation can cause endocannabinoid system activation. This system is a key component of hedonic pathways responsible for regulating food intake and appetite.
In the study conclusion published in the Oxford Sleep Research Society, the researchers conclude the activation of endocannabinoid system via sleep restriction could lead to overeating.
The researchers added that lack of sleep can contribute to the risk of obesity.
In a press release, Erin Hanlon, one of the researchers at University of Chicago says;
We found that sleep restriction boosts a signal that may increase the hedonic aspect of food intake, the pleasure, and satisfaction gained from eating. Sleep restriction seems to augment the endocannabinoid system, the same system targeted by the active ingredient of marijuana, to enhance the desire for food intake.
It is fact that individuals who take marijuana tend to eat more foods. If you know someone who is using marijuana, observe how he or she eats. This may not totally for all marijuana users, but most of them.
Sleep restriction or deprivation as the researchers find mimic the effect of using marijuana. On the other hand, this may not be totally bad for underweight individuals, but if not well-controlled it can easily turn into an obesity trap.
Previous Findings Support Current Study
This is not the first study to find a link between overeating and lack of sleep. One study in 2004 has similar findings.
Sleep restriction has a negative influence in hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. Having a lack of sleep increases ghrelin and decreases leptin.
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone while leptin is the satiety hormone. It makes sense that when ghrelin increases, hunger and food cravings increases. On the other hand, when leptin is high, the feeling of satisfaction or fullness occurs.
Therefore, the more leptin and less ghrelin is a good way to way to prevent junk food cravings. And, it’s not just lack of sleep that negatively affect these two hormones but diet, too.
Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to cravings refined carbs and unhealthy fats. These two are the perfect recipe for weight gain and eventually, develop into obesity.
Sometimes we can’t avoid lacking sleep. However, knowing the foods we crave when we lacking sleep is vital to avoiding unhealthy consequences.
We’ve learned that sleep deprivation is not a valid way to beat food cravings, but instead, get more sleep. In times when we can’t avoid the lack of sleep, have a conscious choice of foods.
Instead of simply choosing the foods readily available to you, pause and think for a moment. When you pause or delay your food choices, although you have a very slight time to decide, you can still think and remember which foods are good for you.
When you do this, you have given yourself the power to choose and only choose foods that are good for you. Instead of choosing bread made from refined flours and sugars, why not choose fresh vegetables and fruits smoothie.
Or, even better simply eat them as salads comprising of fruits and vegetables. When it comes to beverages, instead of drinking sugary soda, just drink water or coconut water. Additionally, drinking freshly brewed black coffee is another good option for a drink. Coffee is not just good for the brain, but for eyesight, too.
Lastly, always aim to achieve enough quality sleep. Through sleep only, the brain produces melatonin, a power antioxidant. And you can only get this through regular quality sleep.