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How Obesity, Lack of Sleep and Cravings Link Up

By Sandy Schroeder

If you snack regularly at midnight, sleep poorly, and struggle with your weight and junk food cravings, you may be caught in a vicious circle.

Scientists from the University of Arizona have studied the problem and found lack of sleep may increase diabetes, weight gain and junk food cravings.

Researchers studied 3,000 adults asking about their midnight snack habits and sleep issues.

  • 60 percent had nighttime snacks
  • Two-thirds said lack of sleep created cravings
  • Poor sleep raised the risk of obesity and diabetes

Connections with Metabolism

Additional lab research supports this connection between nighttime snacking, poor sleep and cravings for junk food. Researchers are saying this may point to sleep's function in regulating metabolism.

A UK study found teenagers and younger children who do not get enough sleep are more likely to become obese. Another Chinese study found children who get less sleep are more likely to be overweight than those who got the recommended amount of sleep.

Another UK study showed the same connection of weight to loss of sleep. They found adults who only got six hours of sleep had waist sizes that were 3 centimeters larger than those who got 9 hours of sleep per night.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say one third of Americans report they usually get less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

If this vicious circle sounds very familiar to you, you may want to consider some ways to improve your sleep and upgrade the snacking.

Sleep Improvement

See if these changes help.

  • Make your bedroom a sleep haven
  • Shutdown all electronics two hours before bedtime
  • Remove laptops, phones and TVs from the bedroom
  • Add blackout drapes to reduce light
  • Remove all extra furniture
  • Use air filters to screen noise and improve the air
  • Make sure your pillow and mattress are comfortable
  • Cut out all caffeine after lunch
  • Avoid alcohol, spicy food and heavy meals before bedtime
  • Work on eliminating stress from health, financial or family concerns
  • Develop a simple bedtime ritual with soft music or a warm bath

Upgrade Nightime Snacks

Substitute healthy snacks for junk food cravings

  • Try crackers and cheese
  • A bowl of cottage cheese
  • A small piece of fruit
  • A glass of chocolate milk

It may not happen overnight, but putting all of the sleep improvements and snack changes into place could help you lose weight and sleep better.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in McKinney, Tex.

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