Why What You Eat Affects Your Sleep…and Vice Versa


Carrying excess fat can increase risk for developing obesity, diabetes and heart disease. That excess fat is usually a result from eating too many calories and being sedentary. To maintain a healthy weight, many people simply try to eat less (or more healthy) and workout more. This is a rationale approach, but it cannot be successfully implemented unless you are able to rectify the underlying causes of why you are making unhealthy choices in the first place. There are many factors that may influence our food intake, including sleep.

An article recently published in the Journal of Health Psychology (JHP) found that sleep problems are associated with increased food intake. Researchers compiled a review of studies to ascertain that a poor night’s sleep can affect one’s eating habits and behaviors. The studies analyzed collectively demonstrated that after sleep restriction, both adult men and women increased their daily energy intake by 20 percent and increased portion sizes irrespective of food type. Short sleep duration was also associated with specific eating patterns, such as eating at irregular hours and/or eating quickly and higher rates of external and emotional eating.

Adequate quantity and quality of sleep was found necessary to properly regulate biological, cognitive, emotional and behavioral mechanisms; both having significant effects on appetite and food choices. The researchers reinforce that sleep should be actively considered in efforts to modify dietary behavior.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Special thanks to dietetic intern Grace Gontarski for her contributions to this post.