It is that time of year again! The time of family, endless turkey, bottomless dessert, and football. For some, Thanksgiving and other food-centric holidays may come with some fear of overeating. If this is a concern of yours, keep reading to see how you can utilize sleep to fight off an unwanted food coma and end the day feeling satisfied but not overstuffed.
Does Lack of Sleep Lead to Overeating?
Studies have linked sleep deprivation to weight gain and, unsurprisingly, a higher risk of obesity.1 The primary factor behind insufficient sleep leading to overeating is disruption to hormone production. Sleep plays an important role in regulating the “hunger hormones” ghrelin and leptin.2
Leptin functions to help us feel full, while ghrelin is closely related to feelings of hunger. Sleep deprivation has been found to increase levels of ghrelin and decrease levels of leptin.3 Lack of sleep also changes how we think about food. In sleep deprived individuals, the brain begins viewing food as a reward, leading to overeating.4
Does Overeating Affect Sleep Quality?
The weight gain resulting from chronic overeating can raise the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This in turn further disrupts sleep, leading to a vicious cycle.
Having a large meal can disrupt sleep due to the body needing to devote more energy to the digestive process. Digestion typically takes several hours and usually slows during sleep.5 This could explain why eating too close to bedtime can lead to increased sleep disruptions.6 These effects can be exacerbated by overeating meals low in fiber and high in saturated fat and sugar.7 Aside from making you feel uncomfortably full, large meals can worsen acid reflux and indigestion.8 Overeating also raises body temperature, which makes it more difficult for the body to cool itself during sleep.
Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Before Thanksgiving
To give yourself the best chance of avoiding the dreaded Thanksgiving food coma, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before.
Put the following tips and tricks into action to ensure you get adequate rest:
1. Avoid blue light exposure: As tempting as it is to scroll through your phone late into the night, the light from your screen can hamper your sleep ability. This specific type of light – known as blue light – is beneficial during the day thanks to its attention and mood-boosting qualities. However, too much exposure can disrupt our circadian rhythms. If unable to bring yourself to put down the phone, consider purchasing blue-light-blocking eyewear or checking whether your device offers a blue-light filter to lessen harmful effects.
2. Wind down at night: Having a nightly routine can make a big difference in sleep efficiency. Start by picking a bedtime and sticking to it. Consistency is key! Try taking a warm bath, doing a relaxing yoga routine, or listening to music prior to bedtime to help yourself wind down.
3. Limit caffeine consumption: The energy boost caffeine provides is often non-negotiable for many. However, it is best to stop consuming caffeine at least six hours prior to bedtime to avoid sleep disruption.9
4. Seek out sleep benefits: If you believe you might be suffering from sleep problems, consider reaching out to your employer to see if they offer any benefits such as comprehensive sleep testing and sleepcare. When it comes to your health, staying proactive is a must.
Tips for Thanksgiving Day
1. Eat more protein: As difficult as it might be, try to fill your plate with extra protein and vegetables rather than carbohydrates. Energy from protein has a greater effect on satiety than energy from carbohydrates or fat in the short-term. 10
2. Eat comfortable portions: Do your best to avoid overly large portion sizes of your favorite foods. Instead, try to eat until you feel satisfied but not overly full. Remember, the leftovers will be there tomorrow!
3. Go for a walk after dinner: Taking a walk after your Thanksgiving meal can boost energy and help jumpstart the digestion process. Not to mention, getting some exercise in will help you sleep better at night.
4. Drink plenty of water: Try sticking to water throughout the day. This will keep you hydrated which is especially important with all the high-sodium foods the day has to offer.
Somnology offers a comprehensive perspective to sleep monitoring and care, with the SLaaS® (Sleep Lab as a Service) platform, SomnoRing®, and mobile app. We have streamlined a typical sleep diagnosis experience by delivering the technology and medical insight of a sleep lab directly to users. To ensure you are getting plenty of uninterrupted sleep during the holidays, read our blog or subscribe to our newsletter.