How Sleep Affects Sugar Cravings

How Sleep Affects Sugar Cravings

Are feeling low on energy?  

Do you find it difficult to keep focused?  

Are trivial things getting on your nerves for no apparent reason?

Are you craving some chocolate, or something sweet to perk up your energy? 

Did you know that sleep plays a major role in neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism? 

Epidemiologic studies and well-controlled laboratory studies over the past 10 years have indicated that chronic partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and weight gain. (1)

Leptin, is the hormone that signals to the body when it is full.   And it is one of the first levels to dip!

Ghrelin is the opposite of Leptin, it is the hormone that triggers hunger.  And it is important to keep the ghrelin levels balanced for fat loss.  The shocking finding is that even one night of bad sleep can make your ghrelin levels rise – hence eating all day and still not feeling satiated.   

Insulin, the hormone that balances out the blood sugar in the body. A single night of sleep deprivation can cause as much insulin resistance as six months on a high-fat diet, according to new animal research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body does not use insulin efficiently to move glucose from the blood into the cells and is a characteristic feature of both Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. (2)

It doesn’t take long for the stress hormones such as cortisol get involved too, making it difficult to manage emotional eating. Again, in just one night of bad sleep, or no sleep is enough to raise cortisol levels the next day.  And the vicious cycle kicks in with the elevated cortisol causing cravings and the emotional triggers of stress to go with it.  

Time for a Cravings Check-In.

Here are 4 simple check-in’s to move past the cravings and keep the energy high and get you back on track QUICKLY!

Check-in #1:   Are you actually hungry?  OR is it a craving?

HALT!  A fabulous acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  So when you feel any of the above check-in if you are really hungry, or possibly just angry, frustrated or stressed, lonely, bored or anxious, tired, sleep deprived, or overwhelmed?   All of these are triggers to go for the quick feel good reward, which is something sugar filled.   A wonderful way to really connect with your triggers is to start writing your observations down in a journal, along with what worked to forgo them in the future.  Whether it be getting outside and going for a walk, stretching, drinking a glass of water, talking with a colleague, cleaning or organizing something – the list can go on and on. 

Check-in #2:  The Veggie Test

This is not only good for adults, although works brilliantly with kids, if they are anything like my 5-year old, who when he is bored says “Mama, I’m hungry.”   Great – then you can have a carrot.  “I don’t want a carrot, I want fruit.”   BINGO.    And when he takes the veggie, then I know there is hunger, and he can enjoy the carrot/ broccoli etc.  with no guilt on both parts.  This is something I use myself, as I know my triggers is when I start to feel overwhelmed, or over-stressed and find myself digging through drawers in the kitchen.  I stop take a breath and ask myself, would I eat a veggie right now. 

Check-in #3:  Stalk the kitchen with healthy options

Honestly guys, THIS is one of the KEYS to making it a lifestyle change, if it isn’t there, you aren’t going to eat it… or it will take much more effort to do so, biking or driving to the grocery store.    If you have family at home that is not on board, have the hide it from you.   At least until you work your way through the initial curbing of the cravings.  And if you are confused which foods are healthy or not,  why not book in for one of the pantry makeovers and supermarket tours! 

Check-in #4:  The art of distraction
Do you remember hearing about the Standford marshmallow experiment, where they put 1 marshmallow in front of a 4-5 year old child and said they could eat it now and have one… although if they wait 15 minutes they can have 2.  They left them in the room alone with the marshmallow for 15 minutes and there were those who gobbled it up right away, those who tried to hold out as long as possible and then those who would hid it and distract themselves with something else until the time was up.  Which ones were the most successful – that 3rd bunch – who hid it and distracted themselves.   So follow their lead, if a 4-year old can do it – YOU can most definitely do it!  Either remove the temptation or remove yourself from the temptation.  

(1)   Source: NCBI

(2)   Source: Diabetes Self-Management