How to beat sleep deprivation hunger

I’m sure you all know how hard it is to eat well when you’re tired. Been out last night? Baby kept you up? Chances are you spend today rummaging the cupboards and looking for all of the carbs!But do you understand why? It’s all to do with your hormones. Lack of sleep causes disruption to your hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin. These 2 hormones play an important role in controlling appetite and satiety.

Ghrelin stimulates appetite, causing you to eat. Leptin suppresses appetite, so you’ll stop eating and stimulates energy expenditure. In a properly functioning brain, the two hormones are released on and off to regulate normal feelings of hunger. But research has shown that sleep deprivation can alter ghrelin and leptin levels.

Lack of sleep changes your appetite.

This has been demonstrated consistently in a number of studies where subjects have had restricted sleep:

  • Ghrelin, the appetite stimulant was shown to be higher in people who have had less sleep. The more ghrelin, the hungrier you feel…
  • Leptin, the satiety hormone,  was shown to be lower in people who have had restricted sleep. The less leptin, the less full you feel…

So it’s easy to see why you’d feel ravenous after a night up with a poorly child, or out with other mums!

So what can you do about it?

1.Plan ahead. If you know you’re going to have a late night, make sure you plan your meals ahead so that you’ve got all the ingredients for delicious meals. And stick to the plan. This will help you to stop snacking throughout the day.

2.Eat a fantastic breakfast as soon as you’re up. And I mean A Fantastic Breakfast. Not coffee and cold toast. Make it something you really enjoy and something that keeps you full. Eggs on toast is great. Or eggs and salmon is even better.

3.Eat protein. Protein is a critical factor for alertness, but we tend to reach for sugary treats and pick me ups when we’re hungry. It works for 20mins but you’ll see a big crash after that.

4.Rest! End of story. A little 30 min nap in the afternoon will make a big difference to your hormone levels and help you get through the afternoon. And try going to bed earlier. I don’t know about you, but I spend far too much time faffing and scrolling through social media instead of going straight to bed. Definitely something most of us can improve on.

And the final tip is:

Prioritise your weight-loss activities.

With many mums that I talk to, I often find that their prioritisations are a little bit upside down. How many times have you said:

“I was working late so I squeezed in a gym workout at 9:30pm…”

I’m really tired as I got up at 5am to squeeze in a workout…

All of these statements put Exercise at the top of the hierarchy for weight-loss. As in, weight-loss will follow exercise.  This is mostly true, BUT it is not the only thing. And much of the science today is suggesting that it is NOT the most important.

Weight-loss will not happen if your hormones are out of kilter. And your hormones will definitely be out of kilter if you aren’t getting enough sleep. So in my hierarchy for weight-loss getting good sleep is more important that Exercise.

It is the foundation.

You really must get it right.

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