We’ve told you before about how sleep can affect you in many ways – weight being one of them. But why exactly do you eat differently when you’re tired or bored? And how do we stop these food cravings?
Let’s get down to the science of the matter. There’s two main hormones based around eating – Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin is the ‘full’ hormone – it’s your body’s way of saying
“No more food thanks, I’m good.” Ghrelin is the opposite; it’s your ‘hunger’ hormone. When Ghrelin is released, it’s your body’s way of saying “Hey, some food would be great”
When you have a poor night’s sleep or are sleep-deprived, your leptin levels fall while your ghrelin levels rise. Basically, when you’re tired, your body is signalling to your brain that it’s hungry. To go along with this – a match made in hell – you’re more likely to choose junk food when you’re tired. This is because your brain isn’t fully charged, so it has trouble making complicated decisions. Long story short, your brain is less equipped to think “it’d be much better for me to have a salad than fast food”.
Science shows that people who don’t sleep enough tend to overeat when they finally chow down. People who get 4 hours of sleep a night can end up eating 22% more calories than their well-rested counterparts! Think of that next time you pull an all-nighter!
Ever eat without thinking? It’s easy enough to snack while you’re distracted watching TV, reading or playing games. But are you really aware of how much you’re eating? While people are distracted they eat faster, can’t remember how much they ate and reported feeling less full – so they’re more likely to eat again later!
Remember – your brain is wired to think of food as a reward. To your brain, food is good, and food makes you happy. Boredom is basically a lack of pleasure, so your brain is trying to find some instant gratification. Drinking, smoking and sex are contenders – but food is too. French fries seem like a perfect fit!
Tips for Combatting Bored/Tired Eating
- Get enough sleep! Easier said than done, we know. Try to set yourself a bedtime routine and stick to it every night – relax and unwind before you hit the hay.
- Try to keep junk food out of sight. If it’s in plain view, it’s much easier to pick it up and snack on it. Keep out a fruit bowl – you’re more likely to pick up a piece of fruit to snack on than a chocolate bar!
- If you’re bored, try to be mindful – don’t opt for immediate gratification. Try reading or going out for a walk; anything that tickles your fancy.