By Robin Quay, MS, RD, Sodexo Dietitian
Lack of sleep may contribute to weight gain. And college is a typical time in life where getting enough sleep gets moved down on the priority list. There are tests to study for, friends to hang out with, and the all-nighter to pull. You’ve got to do it at least once…even if it’s just to say you did.
When you’re tired, you may rely on high sugar, high carbohydrate foods to provide quick energy and keep you awake. Also, lack of sleep causes metabolism to slow.
As if that weren’t enough, lack of sleep causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which is secreted by the GI tract and stimulates appetite. It makes you want to eat more, especially more high sugar, high carbohydrate foods. Lack of sleep also causes a decrease in the hormone leptin, which comes from fat cells and sends the message that you are satisfied, and to stop eating.
Studies show that people, who are obese, sleep less than people who are normal weight. They also have a higher level of body fat.
So what can be done to get a better night’s sleep?
Avoid caffeine after about 2 PM, as it keeps you in lighter stages of sleep.
Exercise promotes deeper sleep. However, finish exercising at least 3 hours before bedtime or you may be too energized to sleep.
It’s recommended that you get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night. Get into a good sleep routine. Get up at the same time each day, and avoid naps unless you usually take one. Try to get the same amount of sleep every night.
Not enough sleep means low leptin, high ghrelin, increased food intake and a slower metabolism, which can add up to weight gain. When you are well rested, these things won’t happen, and you may eat fewer calories- helping your weight to be stable, or even promoting weight loss.