Getting enough sleep won’t just invigorate you; it could also help control how much you eat. A lack of sleep is linked to overeating—especially the overconsumption of junk food—which can lead to weight gain.
Two hormones that help regulate hunger—ghrelin and leptin—are affected by sleep: Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. When the body is sleep-deprived, the level of ghrelin spikes, while the level of leptin falls, leading to an increase in hunger.
Another factor is at play, too. A lack of sleep kicks off a process in the body that raises the blood level of a lipid known as endocannabinoid. This acts on the brain in a similar way to marijuana, making the act of eating more enjoyable, especially in the evening. But it increases hunger for specific types of foods, such as cookies, candy, and chips. In fact, people who don’t get enough sleep eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared with those who sleep for eight hours.
Not only does a lack of sleep interfere with hunger signals, but there’s also the problem that less time in bed simply gives you more hours of the day to eat. Preventing overeating—as well as obesity—starts with creating a healthy bedtime routine. To manage your weight and how much food you consume, aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day of the week, and give yourself enough time in bed to get seven to nine hours of sleep.