Making Saying “No” to Junk Food Easier By Getting a Good Night’s Rest

Almost everyone gets cravings for a late night snack every once in awhile. When you’re trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, those cravings can seriously derail your efforts. But you can help yourself stay on track by getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

There’s a reason most healthy eating plans recommend a full night’s rest. That’s because when you don’t get the sleep you need, your body’s natural response causes behavior that tempts you to reach the very foods you’re trying to avoid.

Sleep Deprivation Makes Your Body Want Food

That’s right. Your appetite is controlled through the release of hormones in the right combinations. When you’re tired, your hormones get released in different amounts than when you’re well rested. Survival is your body’s main concern. Lack of sleep signals the brain to believe you need more energy to survive because you’re awake longer than you’re supposed to be.

Back when our ancestors had to hunt and gather food, this response kept them alive. Today, when food is easily accessible, that survival response means that a lot of people overeat when they’re tired, but they’re simply responding to their natural instincts.

Curbing Those Cravings

Late night snacking might be okay if we were happy to eat a few carrot or celery sticks. But sleep deprivation increases cravings for high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods. You might normally pass by those chips or cookies, but when you’re running on little sleep, you’re far more likely to crave unhealthy food that packs on extra pounds.

Those cravings also tend to come in the late afternoon and evening, when you aren’t as likely to burn them off. Plus, it’s tough to resist cravings at the end of a long day. If you want a health advantage, start by getting a good night’s rest. For those who find getting enough sleep a challenge, there are many steps you can take to help yourself fall and stay asleep.

Make Sleep a Priority

People who are serious about their health have to make sleep a priority. Your body just plain needs it. Start with the right conditions and behaviors by:

Making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Create a sleep sanctuary by setting the temperature in the low to mid-60s. And, of course, darkness always contributes to good sleep because it signals the brain that it’s time to rest. Keep your room as quiet as possible. Remember that bedrooms should be reserved for sleeping and having sex. Yours should be a restful oasis.

Eating for sleep success. Food affects most things your body does. Caffeine and alcohol both disrupt sleep so avoid them at least four hours before bedtime. You’ll want to avoid heavy, high-fat meals too close to bedtime as well.

Keep a schedule. You may resist going to bed, but having a consistent bedtime along with a bedtime routine can help your body set its own circadian rhythms. Those rhythms naturally prepare your body for sleep. The best part, when you go to sleep at the same time every day, it also helps you wake up at the same time every day.

Don’t forget the exercise. Exercise wears the body out, so it feels tired. Be sure to do it early in the day because strenuous exercise done too close to bedtime can raise your body temperature and keep you up for hours.

 

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