By Sandra J. McNeil , MA,RD,CDN,FADA
Americans are sleeping less. Over the past
three decades Americans have decreased their
sleep time by about two hours a day according to
the University of Pennsylvania.
This results in less sleep time than any other
industrialized country. The Healthy People 2020
goals recommend SEVEN hours of sleep. Ironically,
both the rate of obesity and the rate of sleep
deprivation have increased in the US. More than
35 percent of adults are obese and about 30 percent
get less than six hours sleep a night (partial
Too little sleep – six hours a night or less- may
make you hungry, affects hormone levels, and
may increase insulin resistance and increase the
risk of diabetes, heart disease, and produce more
According to the University of Chicago researchers, studies find that depriving people of sleep raises their blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, and lowers their blood levels of leptin, a hormone that inhibits appetite.
The Perlman School of Medicine shares that “in general, people who report sleeping between seven and eight hours of sleep a night are most likely to be in better health and feeling well.” Further analysis revealed that short sleep was linked to less intake of tap water, total carbohydrates, and lycopene (present in foods that are red and orange in color) vitamin C, and selenium (found in nuts, shellfish, and meat).
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics recently published a review of research about partial sleep deprivation and energy balance. The review found potentially negative effects on how the body regulates energy. Specifically, a change in body composition to favor more fat storage, irritability, fatigue, less physical activity, and an up-tick in greater food intake.
Some helpful dietary tips for your take way messages:
• Avoid high-fat or spicy meal before bed- at least four hours.
• Beware of hidden caffeine – foods and medicines.
• Avoid alcohol 6-8 hours before bed.
• Nicotine is a stimulant – avoid smoking.
• Consider some high tryptophan foods – nuts, honey, eggs, bananas.
Elephants need only 3-4 hours of sleep a night, while mice sleep 14 hours. For many Americans sleep is never long enough or good enough. But, sleep affects everything. We’re the only animal that intentionally sleeps less than we need to. Sleep less – weigh more.