This Is How Many Extra Calories You Consume When You Skip Out On Sleep

source: The Atlantic /source: Flickr

We’ve all had those nights when we seem to toss and turn, only to wake up the next morning feeling like an absolute zombie. Try as you might to make it through the work day, all you can think about is how tired you are and how little energy or focus you have. In addition to these feelings, a lack of sleep can also affect how much you eat the following day – and the results are pretty alarming.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition set out to determine the link between sleep deprived people and calorie consumption. Researchers examined 172 people ranging in age from 18 to 50. Researchers studied a control group who slept decently (seven to 12 hours each night) and a group who slept poorly (3.5 to 5.5 hours each night).

source: VitaMedica

After examining the participants’ eating habits, researchers were able to determine that the sleep-deprived people ate an average of 385 more calories each day than people who get the recommended amount of sleep. “Moreover, people proportionally consumed more fat and less protein,” revealed G.K. Pot, lecturer in the Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division at King’s College London and associate professor at Vrije University Amsterdam.

So, why do people tend to eat more when they’re tired? A lack of sleep can negatively affect hormones including leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin is responsible for increasing appetite, while leptin decreases appetite. When you’re experiencing a lack of sleep, ghrelin levels spike, while leptin levels drop. This results in that sleep-deprived hunger many of us are familiar with.

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Another link between overeating and not getting enough sleep has to do with your mental health. When you’re tired, you may be feeling anxious, stressed, or sad. One way we seek to combat these feelings is by deriving pleasure through food, thus eating more than we normally would. Unfortunately, the foods we crave when we’re sleep deprived are rarely healthy ones.

If these examples sound all too familiar, you likely don’t need me to tell you that you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. There are many ways to improve the length and quality of your sleep, and you should consult with your doctor if you feel like your lack of sleep is starting to affect your day-to-day life.