Trying to find the reason why your eating habits are so bad? It could all be down to your poor sleeping patterns, according to a new study.
Poor sleep can trigger a vicios cycle of unhealthy snacking in the workplace. Tiredness, poor concentration and low productivity can lead to a propensity to grab food rich in sugars or energy to compensate.
Our bodies send us the signal that we’re unabe to sleep, we often think we can boost our flagging energy levels with sweet foods.
“Sleep deprivating enhances neuronal activity in certain areas of the brain linked to our innate reward system which can be a trigger for ‘craving’ mechanisms,” explains Nutritional Scientist, Miguel Toribio-Mateas, Chairman of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy.
“Lack of sleep also seems to have an effect on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity which determines how well our body is able to metabolise energy from foods containing carbohydrates. This is significant, as impaired insulin sensitivity has been related to food craving for more sugary foods.”
The new study, commissioned by global nutrition company Herbalife, found that those with high sleep latency consumed more unhealthy snacks – crisps, chocolate, chips and soft drinks – than those who got to sleep faster.
The survey of 5000 office workers between the ages of 18-75 in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy examined snacking over the course of a typical office workers day. While 44% of people across Europe said they ate something outside of meal times, it was those in the UK that snacked the most (55%).
“Short-term sleep deprivation seems to affect more women than men, increasing energy intake and leading to more weight gain in women than men,” continues Miguel Toribio-Mateas.
“Compared to men, women tend to behave more emotionally in relation to food. This has been scientifically proven through tomographic imaging where researchers have found differences in how women and men react to food choiced. Additionally, women also seem to be under more psychosocial pressure as a result of juggling multiple demands ie work, family, partner etc. This can result in elevated cortisol levels which in turn can lead to a reduction in sleep quality and quantity.”
Top Tips to Combat Tiredness-Induced Weight Gain
Those who are overtired in the evening or indeed throughout the day put themselves at greater risk of craving unhealthy snacks leading to a greater propensity to overeat.
· Eat a protein-rich breakfast; meat is ideal or bacon and eggs without the fried bread.
· If a cooked breakfast is unrealistic, protein or meal replacement shakes are a great way of introducing good quality protein early in the day.
· A timed meal pattern of 3 main meals a day reduces the need for food based rewards.
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