Sleep Quality and Food Cravings

Few things are better than a good night sleep and yet for everything we know, this period of time remains a mystery to us, as we lay there unconscious. This article will review the importance of quality sleep on your health, the relationship to your food cravings and your weight.

A little background on the science of sleep will help to shine some light into this time dark. It is strange to think that between non-REM (NREM) sleep we experience a phase of sleep called REM and during this phase we experience paralysis of the skeletal muscles while the part of the brain that is active in processing thoughts and information from our senses is firing off like the 4th of July! (1)

Changes in our bodies during sleep

Just before sleep our bodies lose 1-2 degrees and overall our temperature remains stable while we sleep but during REM, we lose the ability to temperature regulation and our bodies can get even cooler, thank goodness for grandmas warm quilt. Also, a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure allows the kidneys to rest and filter less blood. (1)

Increase the healing

This period of restfulness is also a time of repair, whereas some functions in our body are decreased, others are increasing. Increases in the amount of growth hormone, cell repair and digestion leads us to believe this is a time for the body to repair itself. (1)

Poor sleep and food cravings

Alterations in hormones that regulate hunger and satiety occur because of shortened sleep. Increases in the hormones that make us hungry causes us to eat more as a result of poor sleep. Researches have been able to observe a trend of poor sleep quality in people with high BMI. (2) A high BMI is known to increase the risk of type two diabetes and heart disease.

Circadian rhythm and cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone that is the highest in the morning stimulating other hormones to trigger hunger and as the day progresses it typically reduces. Disturbed sleep and eating late at night can disrupt the circadian rhythm and alter our weight by impacting when and how much we eat. (3)

Inflammation and sleep

Sleep deprivation and stress are both associated with an increase in inflammation. (3) Seeking to manage stress, eat anti-inflammatory foods and getting a good nights rest can help reduce inflammation.



  1. The Characteristics of Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved July 04, 2017, from
  2. Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Medicine1(3), e62.
  3. Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krauses food & the nutrition care process. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

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