Catch Some Z’s: How Sleep Effects Our Hunger Hormones

By June 19, 2018No Comments

To be honest I used to think that sleep was a waste of time. I want to be up and about living life, ya know? But we can’t live to the fullest unless we get adequate rest. When we sleep, it’s not as if our body hits the pause button. There’s a lot of activity inside our bodies during that time.

Think about the last time you got a bad night’s sleep. You might have felt a little brain fog, were less focused, and maybe irritable. You might have craved coffee and an everything bagel. Or a muffin. Or a donut. Or everything within arms reach. Sleep deprivation can have some very negative effects, especially on our appetite regulation hormones. Without a decent amount of sleep, the hormones ghrelin and cortisol can increase at night. Ghrelin’s the hormone that tells you you’re hungry (think of a growling tummy – Ghrelin makes you feel like a Gremlin), and cortisol regulates many processes in the body, one of them being a main factor in the stress response system. Both of those hormones should be low at night. By changing sleep patterns, you’re also changing your hormones. Another key hunger hormone is leptin, which helps regulate long-term energy requirements.

Get enough sleep and leptin helps you feel awake, focused, and more apt to make healthy food choices. Your body will tell you when it’s hungry, when you’ve had enough to eat, and it can metabolize nutrients efficiently.

We’ve learned that sleep is essential, but what if you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Creating a schedule has helped me immensely. When I think of ‘schedule’ I think of work, but a nighttime routine is something you can look forward to all day. A nice hot shower, putting on a comfy robe, or having a mug of herbal tea, night after night will help put your body and brain into “time to sleep” mode. Studies have also shown that foods with melatonin content – a hormone secreted at night to help regulate our circadian rhythm – like tart cherries, kiwifruit, almonds, raspberries, and goji berries can help make us sleepy. While it’s not recommended to eat a heavy meal right before going to bed, a little snack is okay under some circumstances. See below for a few more resources on getting good sleep – I love the Ted Ed video and its a short one!

Alexa Brynne

Author Alexa Brynne

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