Friday, June 17, 2011

Sleep Deprivation Leads to High Calorie Cravings

Do you ever find that after a long, exhausting day, or even when you can't keep your eyes open mid-day, the first thing you want to do is eat...and keep eating? Yup, and if you're like post people, the foods you're most likely to want are what you would consider 'comfort foods'; rich, hearty or decadent foods that hit the spot and make the woes of your day melt away. Well, it turns out there's a good reason for those cravings, and better yet, there's something you can do about them before all those calorie-fests lead to weight gain!

According to researchers from the Harvard Medical School, bodily exhaustion or sleep deprivation actually change the way that our brains respond to food. Similar to what happens with alcohol intoxication, fatigue and exhaustion lower our inhibitions when it comes to being able to resist high-calorie foods like hamburgers, pizza and ice cream.

According to the researchers, if you're sleepy, you're less likely to be able to control how much you eat and you may find yourself more drawn to high-calorie foods because you aren't fighting to resist them the same way you would if you were well rested. In addition, sleep deprivation causes an imbalance in our hunger and satiety hormones, grehlin and leptin, which tells the brain that you need to keep on eating.

Since sleep is such a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight, here are some tips to help you snooze better and be more alert during the day so you can resist all of those high-cal snacks that you wouldn't normally want to eat.

To help you beat the afternoon slump, try getting outside in the sunlight for at least 10 minutes. The dim lights in your office or home contribute to drowsiness while the bright sunlight can help perk you up. For that matter, taking a 10 minute walk is a great and simple way to boost your energy levels. You can also try keeping healthy snacks by your side during the day so that you always have something safe and satisfying to reach for. This can also help keep your insulin and blood glucose levels more balanced so that you don't feel tired when they get out of whack. Make sure to include lean protein with your snacks to help you feel satisfied for longer. Another good idea is to grab a cup of tea mid-afternoon as the natural caffeine in tea perks you up without the same kind of crash as coffee.

If those tips didn't work during the day, try these tips to help you sleep better at night. To help you relax and unwind after a long day, try soaking in a hot bath which will relax your aching muscles. After that, snuggle up in some cosy pajamas which help keep your skin comfortably warm, allowing for a deeper sleep. Just make sure they're not too warm, as you may end up sweating or feeling uncomfortable! Then, right before hitting the hay, you can also try having a warm glass of milk and a banana, which contains tryptophan and melatonin, an amino acid and hormone that make you feel drowsy. Aside from having a comfortable mattress, make sure that you also have a comfortable, supportive pillow to rest your head on. A significant proportion of your comfort while sleeping is thanks to your pillow! All the while, make sure that your bedroom is dark, quiet, clutter and disturbance-free. No pets, no computers, no noises and no bright lights!

With any or all of these tips on hand, you'll be a sleeping beauty who is rested and ready to tackle anything the day throws at you in no time!