Sleep: the secret ingredient of a healthy diet!

8th January 2019

Read time is about 5 mins

Sleep: the secret ingredient of a healthy diet!

Is one of your goals this year to eat better and get healthier? Don’t forget about your sleep!

If you had the chance to read our December blog post  about New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll know that sleep plays a surprisingly complex role when it comes to our diet. The amount and quality of your sleep can determine whether you’ll be successful with your resolution to eat better this year. Today, we’re going to dive deeper into this topic!


According to research conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine, insufficient sleep can reduce the benefits of dieting for weight loss. In one study, two groups of people followed the exact same diet, but were assigned different sleep schedules. The result? Those who were given adequate rest not only lost more weight, but half of what they lost was from fat. Comparatively, those who were sleep deprived (less than seven hours of sleep per night) experienced a 55% decrease in fat-loss. Even though they were following the same diet as the other group in the study, they reported being hungrier. They were less satisfied after their meals and had less energy for exercise.


Why does this happen? One factor to consider is the link between sleep and hormones. Sleep deprivation begins to reduce your insulin sensitivity by more than 30% after only four days (University of Chicago). Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that allows your body to convert sugar into energy or store it for future energy use.

Insulin isn’t the only hormone affected by sleep –  it also impacts your production of leptin and ghrelin, the “hunger hormones”. Sleep deprivation will suppress leptin (which tells you when you’re full) and stimulate ghrelin (which tells you that you’re hungry). Lack of sleep also raises your cortisol levels, a stress hormone often linked to fat gain.

With your cortisol and ghrelin both being out of whack, you’ll never feel satisfied after a meal, and feel hungry even when your body isn’t. And if an increased appetite wasn’t enough, our ability to resist unhealthy cravings might also suffer!


Have you ever found that when you’re sleepy, you’re more likely to succumb to your junk food cravings? Lack of sleep impairs activity in the frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that controls complex decision making. At the same time, it increases activity in the amygdala, the “reward centre” region of the brain. These reactions make resisting cravings nearly impossible, because our actions will be more driven by desire (like the appeal of a tasty snack), and we’ll also be more impulsive.

If you’re looking to get healthier this year, make sure you pay attention to the power of some quality Zzzs! With sleep on your side, you’ll be able to stick with your healthy diet, feel more energetic and reach any fitness goals you may have for 2019.


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