Ever noticed that staying up past the wee hours of the night coincides with some serious junk food cravings? Well, it’s not all in your head. Sleep actually plays an important role in your overall health and can curb all of those cravings you experience late at night.
University of Arizona Health Sciences sleep researchers report that out of 3,105 adults, 60 percent reveal that they succumb to nighttime snacking regularly. Plus, two-thirds of the participants in the pool admitted that a lack of shut-eye led them to crave more junk food. So the answer is simple: The best way to overcome late-night snacking is making a habit of going to bed earlier and getting better sleep overall.
Consistent quality sleep stops late-night snacking
“Laboratory studies suggest that sleep deprivation can lead to junk food cravings at night, which leads to increased unhealthy snacking at night, which then leads to weight gain,” Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, UA assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the UA Sleep and Health Research Program and the UA Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic, said in a statement. “This connection between poor sleep, junk food cravings, and unhealthy nighttime snacking may represent an important way that sleep helps regulate metabolism.”
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that can help you reduce cravings, as well as your waist circumference. Getting enough sleep regularly will not only help you avoid reaching into that bag of chips, but it can also help regulate hunger-decreasing leptin and appetite-increasing ghrelin so that you’re not ravenous and exhausted the next day.
RELATED: We found the best smoothie recipes for weight loss.
Better sleep leads to better health overall
Having a consistent sleep schedule will not only reduce late-night cravings, but it will also benefit your overall health. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute through the U.S. Department of Health, sleep helps support healthy brain function and physical health, while also helping children and teens in their growth and development. Sleep affects how you work, how you learn, how you think, and even how you react. Experts even say sleeping is as important, if not more so, than exercising regularly.
Late-night snacking is a reaction that happens when you don’t get enough sleep. So creating a healthy habit of getting enough sleep regularly—typically between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night—will help you overall with your health and your late-night snacking habits.