Sleep deprivation is one of those words that is just as bad as it sounds, if not much worse. The average adult human brain needs at least seven to eight hours of sleep every day to stay healthy and enable peak mental and physical capacities. However, when that need is not met on a daily basis, the effects of sleep deprivation begin to become apparent. While there are multiple adverse effects that are brought on due to long term sleep deprivation, disruption to a healthy appetite and eating habits is among the most prominent of them.
Sleep deprivation makes people hungrier, which is something that almost every one of us is well aware of. This increase in appetite is brought on by imbalances in the hormones known as leptin and ghrelin. A diminished production of leptin leads to the individual not realizing when he/she has had sufficient food, while an increased production of ghrelin makes a sleep deprived individual even more hungry. As a result of this synergistic effect, sleep deprivation remains as one of the prime causes for rapid weight gain in the United States and around the world. Losing weight without proper sleep is also extremely difficult once you gain some pounds because the deprivation causes muscle loss and makes it more difficult to lose fat than it would be normally.
Unhealthy Snacking Becomes Almost a Subconscious Habit
Multiple meals throughout the day is a healthier choice than just three large meals across the entire day, but when you are sleep deprived, frequent snacking is not ideal because of the following reasons:
- You will crave junk and sweet food more than other healthier options
- Due to a decrease in leptin, you will likely eat several unhealthy snacks and three large meals anyway
- Snacking subconsciously without even being aware of all the consumed calories is not uncommon
Hunger Pangs Come at the Oddest of Times
The circadian cycle refers to our internal biological clock, and unless it is in sync with the actual geographical timeline, everything from sleeping routines to eating habits will get disrupted, similar to what happens during jet lag. When sleep deprivation continues for a long enough period, it severely disrupts the internal circadian rhythm, and as a result, the individual might experience hunger pangs at the oddest of hours. Even at the very least, it is almost certain that breakfast, lunch and dinner timings will change, possibly to inconvenient hours.
Healthy Food Doesn’t Taste as Good Anymore
As if an increased craving for carbs and unhealthy fats was not enough, sleep deprivation also noticeably reduces one’s cravings for healthy foods such as leafy greens and fruits. If not controlled consciously, this may lead to acute mineral deficiencies due to a lack of the essential nutrients in one’s diet.
How to Counter Sleep Deprivation?
The best way to counter sleep deprivation would of course involve sleeping more, but that is not always an option, unfortunately. However, it is possible to get more out of your sleep by getting the maximum rest out of the few hours you do have available for sleeping. Sleep masks can definitely help to sleep better as they improve the quality of the sleep by completely cutting off light interference from the human eye. Given that light pollution is one of the main reasons as to why we sleep so poorly in urban areas, putting on a comfortable and well-designed eye mask will certainly help to get the most out of your daily slumber time. Also, plug a pair of earmuffs in and you will wake up a lot more refreshed and rejuvenated from the same amount of sleep as before.