Sleep-deprived people are more likely to over-eat both from a chemical and emotional point of view, according to a leading psychologist.
Dr Guy Meadows was speaking at the launch of Ikea’s Tonight is to Sleep campaign.
He explained that sleep-deprived people can eat up to 400 more calories a day than those who got a good night’s rest.
This is caused by an increase of 45% compared to the average craving levels.
There are two causes for the increased levels of eating when tired.
Dr Meadows explained: “If you are looking to manage your diet, and your weight, you need to sleep well. The reason is sleep regulates your appetite hormones.
“Sleep deprivation increases a hormone called ghrelin, which is your hunger hormone, so it basically makes you want to eat more. And generally [the cravings are] for the bad stuff.
“Then it decreases leptin, which is a satiety hormone which tells you when you are full.
“So it makes you want to eat more and you don’t know when to stop eating.”
Dr Meadows went on to explain that as well as the chemical imbalance in our bodies caused by a lack of sleep, there is also the mental side to consider.
He said: “And also sleep deprivation reduces and lowers our willpower. There was a study that showed when sleep deprived by a few hours over a couple of days, people on average ate about 350 or 400 calories more per day, around 45%.
“We always talk about the three or four pillars of health – sleep, food, movement and your mental health. Well sleep is the most important.
“If you are wanting to manage your diet or lose weight, you need to sleep.
“If you want to train, getting fit for a marathon, sleep needs to be an essential part of your plan because it is when you repair yourself.
“And if you are looking for good mental health, then you need to be getting sleep as well.
“So sleep is the base on which all the other pillars sit.”