Poor sleep increases junk food cravings

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

The good news is exercise can help curb junk food cravings caused by sleep deprivation. It has been known for a long time that not getting enough sleep makes people feel hungrier. In particular it causes them to crave junk food. There is good research to support the mechanisms. If you do not get enough sleep, or you have poor quality, broken sleep, your blood level of various hunger hormones increases. You are also more likely to become insulin resistant.

Insulin resistance is also known as syndrome X, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome. It occurs when the cells of your body no longer respond to insulin properly. This impairs your ability to burn up carbohydrate and use it for energy. Instead, your body tends to accumulate more fat, and at the same time you’re left feeling hungry, craving sugar, and never feeling quite satisfied after meals. In most cases this ends up leading to the development of fatty liver.

If you’re feeling exhausted you are much less motivated to prepare healthy meals and get regular exercise. Research has also shown that chronically exhausted people end up buying more food when they go grocery shopping, and more junk food in general.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that if you could spare a little energy for a bit of exercise, this is an effective way to control food cravings. Research published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology investigated this specific topic. Exercise helps to increase endocannabinoid levels in your brain. This makes you feel more content and satisfied, so you’ll be less likely to crave food.

If you struggle with poor sleep quality, melatonin and magnesium are both wonderful for helping initiate sleep, and promoting a deep, refreshing sleep.

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