Sleepy and Starving: The Science of Cravings

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

Do you ever find yourself feeling tired and hungry, wanting nothing more than a slice of chocolate cake and a two hour nap? Well you aren’t alone. In fact, there’s actually a clear scientific link between sleep deprivation, and food cravings. Specifically, unhealthy ones. And there are three reasons for this.

1. Ghrelin

2. Endocannabinoid

3. A poor bedtime routine

Now I know some of those words sound like complete gibberish but it’s actually pretty interesting.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Ghrelin is one of two hormones (the other being leptin) that regulates hunger. Ghrelin increases your appetite, while leptin lowers it. And when you don’t get enough sleep, ghrelin spikes while leptin falls, leaving you wanting that slice of cake.

But the sleep-deprivation-induced-cake-craving isn’t just because of hunger. It’s also a result of that second gibberish word: endocannabinoid. Endocannabinoid is a lipid found in the blood which is increased after a lack of sleep. This increase affects the brain in such a way that it makes the experience of eating food more enjoyable, and causes the body to crave more fatty, sugary foods.

The third factor, of not having a good sleep routine, simply means that since someone is sleeping less than they should be, they are simply awake to eat food for longer in the day. Getting a full night’s rest eliminates a good chunk of potential eating time.

Studies on sleep deprivation and appetite have been done on both men and women, and clearly show that a lack of sleep will increase appetite, and potentially lead to a significant increase in weight over time.

The effects of sleep deprivation are many, but suffice to say that ultimately, not getting enough sleep will have dire consequences for the quality and length of your life. What might seem like a simple bad night’s sleep and a craving for some chocolate cake, if continuing, can have some serious, serious consequences.

If you, or someone you know, has trouble sleeping, then please talk to your GP, and get in touch with us to find out how we may be able to help.

Sleep Well - Live Well



This blog post is from Keystone Medical Media, a sub-entity of Keystone Content.

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