Why You Reach for Snacks When You're Sleep Deprived - isense

Why You Reach for Snacks When You're Sleep Deprived

Sleep is a foundational aspect of good health, just as important as diet and exercise. However, modern lifestyles, with their irregular schedules and constant screen time, have caused many people to get less sleep and lower sleep quality. 

This sleep deficit can trigger many physical symptoms that can influence eating behavior, which can lead to increased snacking and weight gain. This is a major concern especially in the U.S., where obesity rates are high and sleep duration is often compromised by a fast-paced lifestyle.

Insufficient sleep disrupts the body's hormonal balance, affecting hunger-regulating hormones like ghrelin and leptin. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, ghrelin levels spike while leptin levels plummet, making you feel more hungry and less full after eating.This hormonal turbulence can also create a stress response that increases cravings for high-calorie, comfort foods.A tired brain seeks to compensate for lack of energy by seeking quick glucose fixes, commonly found in sugary snacks.

The decision-making process is also impaired by lack of sleep, possibly reducing one's willpower and ability to resist the temptation of unnecessary snacking. Sleep deprivation can dull activity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for decision-making and impulse control.

Then there's heightened activity in the amygdala, the area that responds to rewards and controls emotion-driven behavior, which can intensify your response to food.

These changes show the relationship between sleep and health, and sleep's critical role in managing hunger and maintaining a healthy weight.

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Eating Habits

Sleep deprivation significantly affects eating habits through hormonal imbalances and emotions , with implications on weight management and overall health.

Hormonal Changes and Hunger

Sleep deprivation can trigger a disruption of key hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. Ghrelin, known as the 'hunger hormone,' tends to increase with lack of sleep, signaling the brain that it's time to eat. Conversely, leptin, which communicates satiety and fullness, decreases when an individual is not well-rested. This hormonal imbalance can lead to higher food intake and a preference for high-calorie diets, increasing the risk of obesity and weight gain.

Psychological Factors and Food Cravings

Not getting enough sleep can increase stress levels and affect emotional wellbeing, which in turn can increase cravings for comfort foods that are often calorie-dense and high in sugar. The brain, seeking to compensate for the lack of energy and serotonin, typically longs for these foods to provide a momentary soothing effect.

Research indicates that sleep-deprived individuals show greater neural reactivity to food, making it harder to resist unhealthy options.

Physical Consequences of Inadequate Sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation may disrupt the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels, increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes. It can also compromise the body's ability to process insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy, leading to increased blood sugar levels. Over time, this can result in significant health problems, including the development of diabetes and its associated complications.

Poor sleep can also lead to lethargy and reduced physical activity, further compounding issues related to weight management and health.

Dietary Strategies for Better Sleep and Controlled Snacking

Following dietary strategies can contribute to better sleep quality and help regulate snacking habits. Paying attention to macronutrient balance, incorporating certain sleep-inducing foods, and aligning eating patterns with sleep hygiene can all play vital roles.

Balancing Macronutrients for Satiety

Eating the right balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) can help achieve longer-lasting fullness and thereby reduce the propensity to snack excessively.

A balanced meal high in protein and fiber can help you feel fuller for an extended period, decreasing the need for additional snacks before bedtime.

  • Proteins: Including lean proteins in meals can reduce hunger pangs.
  • Fiber: High-fiber foods are more filling, which can lessen the desire to eat again soon.

Sleep-Inducing Foods and Snacks

Certain foods and snacks are known to be conducive to better sleep due to their content of sleep-promoting compounds like tryptophan, magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamin B6, which aid in the production of sleep-related hormones.

Here are some bedtime snacks and drinks that can help enhance sleep quality:

  • Warm milk: Contains tryptophan and calcium, which can facilitate the production of melatonin.
  • Chamomile tea: Its calming properties can help improve sleep.
  • Tart cherry juice: A source of melatonin and may help in improving sleep duration and quality.
  • Bananas: High in potassium and vitamin B6, crucial for melatonin production.

Eating Patterns and Sleep Hygiene

The timing and pattern of eating can significantly affect sleep quality.

Aligning eating habits with sleep hygiene means:

  • Avoiding heavy or large meals close to bedtime.
  • Eating a small snack if needed, ideally one that promotes sleep.
  • Ensuring adequate nutrient intake throughout the day to prevent late-night hunger.

By focusing on these dietary strategies, you can sleep better and control your snacking habits.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Free Delivery

180-night Trial

10-year Limited Warranty

0% APR Financing

5-star review

How do our customers sleep?

So far I'm waking up without back pain! Love it

Ashley J.

What a great bed now I can a Adjust for my comfort which is soft so my hips and shoulders don’t hurt because I’m a side sleeper love it

Robin S.

I love the bed it supports my back and I can adjust it. I recommend this bed.

Angel C.

iSense Hybrid Premier - isense
iSense Hybrid Premier
Sale priceFrom $2,199
Elite Adjustable Base - isense
Elite Adjustable Base
Sale priceFrom $1,283
the best mattress for back pain relief
84% of iSense CustomersReport Back Pain Relief*


Need help making a decision?

Chat with us

If you have any questions about the iSense bed—we are here to help 7 days a week. Get Started.