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Sleep and sugar cravings.

Posted on April 23 2022

Sleep and sugar cravings. | Roshni Sanghvi

How are the two related?

Did not sleep enough last night and you already feel like reaching out for something sugary or salty? Chances are that it’s not your fault, but just biology.

Let’s explore why lack of sleep might lead to cravings and episodes of binge eating.

Studies have suggested that lack of sleep is associated with increased hunger, especially snack and sweet cravings. But to understand why this happens, we need to take a quick biology lesson.

How is sugar broken down in the body?

When you consume sugar, it is broken down in your mouth by the salivary enzyme called Amylase. Amylase is present in the saliva of humans and some other mammals, where it begins the chemical process of digestion in your body.

It is also strongly related to your quality and quantity of sleep. The enzyme is known to increase its activity in correspondence to the length of time a person has been deprived of sleep. Thus, when you sleep less, amylase secretion increases in the mouth.

When you have excess amylase, a little bit of sugar does not seem to be enough and you keep craving for more sugar.

This whole process in fact is to help you with going back to sleep…

Your body really just wants to go to sleep. And the best way to do it is by eating too much of sugar which will make you have a ‘sugar crash’. This sugar crash then ultimately leads you to get sleepy. This means that your body is just trying to make you fall asleep.

The lack of quality sleep may possibly also lead to overeating because it is believed to stimulate hunger and suppress hormone signals that communicate fullness or satiety.

What does science say?

The correlation between sleep deprivation and food cravings has been examined by a number of researchers over the years.

One such study was conducted to analyze the impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Its findings provided an explanatory brain mechanism by which sleep deprivation may lead to the development of obesity.

This is because you tend to select foods high in sugar and calories when deprived of sleep. Basically, your biological urges overpower your self-discipline drive.

This is another reason why my team and I look for not just a diet plan but also a ‘holistic lifestyle change’ when working with clients.

Trust this helps,

Roshni Sanghvi.


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