If you’re trying to conquer your junk food cravings, a little extra time in the sack could make a tremendous difference. In fact, a University of Chicago study showed that not getting enough sleep could increase cravings for junk food, specifically foods like cookies and bread, by 45 percent.
Don’t take the importance of sleep for granted. You may think sleeping less will give you more time to get things done, but in reality, you’re only hurting yourself and making your habits worse. Check out these four reasons more sleep means fewer cravings.
It Helps Control Your Appetite
Sleep helps regulate our hormones. Just a few nights without sleep can increase the level of ghrelin—the hormone responsible for triggering our appetite. In fact, the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study showed that participants who slept 5 hours had 14.9 percent higher ghrelin than those individuals who slept 8 hours. A lack of sleep not only explains the differences in those hormone levels but also sheds light on the increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity for individuals that don’t get adequate sleep. (Try these smart alternatives to junk food)
It Helps Signal Satiety
Hormones affect our appetite–they help regulate when we feel full or satisfied. Just a few nights without sleep can drop the level of leptin—the hormone responsible for signaling satiety. Study participants who slept 5 hours had 15.5 percent lower leptin than those individuals who slept for 8 hours. Lack of sleep can make it more difficult for us to sense when we’re full—causing us to consume more calories than we need.
It Aids Your Judgment
It’s probably no surprise (and has been well documented) that a lack of sleep can decrease our memory, cause us to feel foggy, increase our potential for accidents, increase the risk for disease and even diminish our sex drive. It can also impair judgment when it comes to making healthy choices. When we’re tired, we are more likely to grab whatever is convenient (think office vending machine, break room donuts or that caramel latte) rather than something that is good for us. (Don’t get stuck with a junk food hangover)