If you have ever rotated shifts, you know that being tired makes us hungry. But, did you know there is a significant body of research that supports this? Or, that our food choices are mediated by fatigue? Did you know sleep deprivation is associated with obesity?
Research supports all of this and more. According to recent research,
“Poorer sleep quality was associated with both greater hunger … and … overeating” or Higher disinhibited eating behavior was also associated with higher BMI. There was a significant indirect relationship between sleep quality and BMI via disinhibition. (Bloomfield, 2017). Another study, conducted by University of Arizona researchers at major metropolitan areas across the US found that sleep loss is associated with craving high-fat or “junk-food” (Grantner, 2018).
All of this is mediated by Leptin, “the hormone of energy expenditure and Ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Leptin is produced by fat cells and helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger, and is opposed by the actions of the hormone ghrelin, which is produced predominantly in the stomach. Ghrelin stimulates the secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland and increases appetite. Both of these hormones act on receptors in the hypothalamus.
Biochemistry aside, it is important to recognize that the stress of sleep deprivation results in increased cravings for fatty foods. This may have been an adaptive survival mechanism for our hunter- gatherer ancestors but is clearly detrimental in our post-industrial age.
As nurses, we know there are many reasons for fatigue and multiple causes of overeating. Some diseases, like diabetes, can cause both. It’s also important that we are aware of the problems associated with, and resulting from lifestyle choices.
So now you know, regularly getting a good night’s sleep helps with maintaining a healthier BMI, a fun fact to know and tell!
Best regards to all!
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