Just as emotions affect your ability to sense hunger and fullness, sleep significantly influences how you behave.35,53-55 Adequate sleep keeps you mentally sharp, reduces the stress you feel and repairs the wear and tear the body receives during it’s waking hours. Inadequate sleep makes you less productive, slower in general and more stressed. The lack of sleep also weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness, like a simple cold.56
You have less ability to access your coping skills when you are tired. So trying to figure out whether or not you’re hungry gets murky. Your sleep influences your sensitivity to the hormones ghrelin and leptin and the amounts of the hormones secreted.35,54-55,57
Physically, with less sleep, your body tries to adapt and give you the energy you are lacking. It tries to protect itself. So what does it do? It spits out more ghrelin to make you feel hungrier and eat more. And it spits out less leptin to make you feel less full and eat more. If you are trying to lose weight, eating more is working against you.54-55,57
In addition to feeling hungrier, the food you crave is higher in fat and carbohydrates. With sleep deprivation, it’s as if you need more bang for your buck to try to make up for lost zzzzzs. Studies have shown that after just one night of poor sleep, people craved more fatty and sugary food the next day.35,53-55,58 All in an effort to make you feel like you have energy when what you really need is a nap!!!
Sleep is something to be aware of when you are trying to decipher your physical sensations of hunger. You might be just plain tired. You can choose to power through with a brownie or take a rest. Obviously, resting isn’t always possible. Being aware of what is happening can prompt you to do things unrelated to food to keep going.
Learning the signals of your physical hunger, with all their subtleties, will take practice. It will take practice to understand your incinerator. And it will take commitment to pay attention to the signals and all the other things that affect the system. And it will take practice to maintain the machinery. Think of it as doing maintenance checks every day.
Of course the human body and brain are much more complicated than an incinerator. For optimal health, it’s important to put things into the incinerator in a particular way. Let’s move on to discover how nutrients should be combined as you put them into your body.
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