Have you ever woken up from an insufficient night’s sleep feeling ravenously hungry? Have you ever had entire days during which you felt you couldn’t eat enough to stop your stomach from growling, during a period of poor sleep? You’re not alone. Increasingly, sleep deprivation is being linked to several serious illnesses. Its link to overeating is now being demonstrated by research.
A recent BBC documentary, the Truth About Sleep, enlisted the help of the University of Leeds’s Dr. Eleanor Scott to find the link between increased hunger and reduced sleep.
Dr. Scott enlisted a group of healthy volunteers, fitting them with glucose and activity monitors. Volunteers were asked to go to sleep and rise at their regular times for 2 successive nights. For the next 2 nights, they were asked to go to bed three hours later than usual. For the final 2 nights of the study, the volunteers were told they could sleep for as long as they liked, at whatever time they chose.And the results were illuminating.
Blood sugar spikes
Every volunteer involved in Dr. Scott’s study found that their blood sugar levels spiked on the days following their nights of sleep deprivation. In addition, they were hungrier than normal and craved sugar in large amounts.
But when subjects returned to their normal sleeping patterns, their glucose levels went down.
Dr. Scott’s small, informal study is backed up by more rigorous models. These have routinely found that people who get less than 7 hours sleep each night are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and to become obese.
High levels of blood sugar can lead to intense sugar cravings. When these are caused by lack of sleep, the effect is often due to the increased presence of the stress hormone cortisol.
Higher calorie intake observed
A meta-analysis at King’s College London discovered that people who don’t sleep enough also consume, on average, 400 more calories per day than they would normally. Over time, that higher calorie intake can add up to extra weight and even diabetes.
A lack of sleep causes our system to be flooded by hunger hormones, signalling our brains that we need to eat, and preventing us from feeling sated when we do.
The cumulative findings of research gives us the answer we’re seeking to the question “Can reduced sleep make you hungry?”. The answer appears to be a resounding “yes”.
Sleep apnea can rob you of sleep
Clearly, not getting enough sleep can make you hungrier, leading to overeating, increased weight, diabetes and other health problems. People with sleep apnea suffer from sleep interrupted by breathing cessation, which causes snoring.
Our mouthpiece can help. Learn more about how The Good Morning Snore Solution is proven to stop sleep apnea and restore you to normal sleeping patterns.
Stop sleep apnea from robbing you of the sleep you need.
The burgeoning obesity epidemic in Western nations generally and in the USA, particularly, is accompanied by an increase in people presenting with symptoms of sleep apnea. Obesity is one of the primary indicators of the condition.
That’s why tackling sleep apnea with diet and lifestyle changes is becoming a favored strategy for confronting the problem. In this post, we’re going to talk about how patients can help control sleep apnea and its devastating effect on their health by making changes to the way they eat and live.
Taking the pressure off.
Excess weight is a key indicator of sleep apnea. Weight carried around the neck is especially dangerous, as fatty tissue in this area can contribute to blockage of the airway. Neck circumference of more than 17” for men and 16” for women demands action to reduce weight.
Taking the pressure off your air passage is an important step toward improving or even eliminating sleep apnea. Under the direction of a primary care giver, patients should increase their activity levels to recalibrate their metabolisms. Elevating metabolic levels enhances overall health and helps the body process food more efficiently.
Commensurate changes in diet will also help patients lose excess weight. That means avoiding foods high in salt, sugar, and fat. Fast food and prepared foods are high in these ingredients, known to contribute to obesity.
Increasing the intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains and drinking water in the place of sugary soft drinks will assist in the project of losing the weight that’s contributing to sleep apnea.
A healthier lifestyle.
Sleep apnea patients should also consider key lifestyle changes to support the reduction of sleep apnea. One of these is reducing or eliminating alcohol and/or drug consumption. Drugs like sleep aids relax the central nervous system, which causes the throat muscles to relax. Alcohol has a similar effect. Avoiding them (especially in the evening hours) has been seen to positively impact the incidence of breathing cessation caused by sleep apnea.
Smoking cigarettes is another habit which can exacerbate sleep apnea. Those who stop smoking report an immediate reduction in symptoms caused by the condition. Cigarette smoking affects the circulatory and respiratory systems so seriously, that its exacerbating role is clear. There’s no substance more difficult to quit than tobacco, but quitting has benefits which far outweigh that difficulty.
As noted earlier in this post, tackling sleep apnea with diet and lifestyle is a project to be undertaken under the care of a doctor. Rapid shifts in diet and lifestyle are to be taken seriously. By deliberately changing eating habits, increasing activity levels and reducing contributing behaviors, a gradual reduction in severity and eventual elimination of sleep apnea can be achieved.
If you or someone you know suffers from sleep apnea, or you suspect that’s the case, consult your physician. This condition can lead to serious health issues affecting the heart, lungs and general health. We strongly recommend seeking a diagnosis at your earliest opportunity.
In addition to key lifestyle changes, consider investing in a sleep apnea mouthpiece. Good Morning Snore Solution offers a comfortable, affordable therapeutic model to treat sleep apnea.