Sleep and food are fuel for the body. If you reduce one source of energy, your body will compensate by requiring more energy from another source.
The downside to swapping food for sleep? We consume more calories during awake time but don’t necessarily burn those additional calories. Consuming more than you burn = weight gain.
This is the phenomenon that recent studies have found. Two separate studies found that participants who were restricted to 5 or less hours of sleep per day ate as much as 500 additional calories per day.
Another study found that participants who got 5 hours of sleep per day or less gained an average of 2 lbs after just 5 days (a typical work week). What’s more, the participants were more likely to choose less healthy foods like simple carbohydrates and high fat foods than they would when they were well-rested.
On the other hand, patients who slept 9 hours per night 5 days in a row experienced weight maintenance and, in some cases, weight loss. They also chose fewer simple carbohydrate and high fat foods during their well-rested period than during their sleep-deprived period. Overall,
Findings suggest that increased food intake during insufficient sleep is a physiological adaptation to provide energy needed to sustain additional wakefulness.
Sleep deprivation hinders your fighting chance at a healthy lifestyle. It is that much harder to make healthy food choices when your defenses are down and your body is looking for quick energy. When your body is well fueled by sleep and quality foods, it is less likely to crave unhealthy options. Prioritize sleep, and set yourself up for success!