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Sleep and Appetite

Sleep & Appetite


Americans are sleeping less and less. In fact, over the past 40 years, Americans have been sleeping an average of one to two hours less per night. Within the college aged population, the amount of students sleeping less than seven hours each night has more than doubled. If you’re one of these students, lack of sleep may be affecting your appetite.

 Studies show that college students sleeping less than seven hours a night have an increased body mass index (BMI: your weight divided by your height).  BMI continues to increase as students’ total hours of sleep decreases. For example, those sleeping five hours a night or less had the greatest increase in BMI. Maintaining a healthy BMI is important because higher BMI’s have been associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease among several other undesirable health outcomes.

 Hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin may help explain the link between sleep, appetite and BMI. Studies have found that when sleep-deprived, ghrelin is elevated and stimulates appetite, while leptin, which tells you to stop eating, is reduced. An increase is ghrelin and a decrease in leptin may stimulate your appetite and further promote weight gain.

 If you find yourself concerned with weight or struggling to get enough sleep, try these sleep tips:

Try to maintain a regular sleep pattern of at least seven hours each night.

 Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soda at night and before sleeping. Swiping into the dining hall late? Look for the decaffeinated coffee, tea and water options.

Exercise! Regular aerobic exercise during the day may help improve your sleep quality at night. 


Keep your appetite at bay— sleep 7 hours a day!

Author: Marina Vineis                                                           Reviewed By: Dr. Worobey – Dept. of Nutritional Sciences

 References: Spiegel K, et al. Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite. Ann Intern Med, 2004. Taheri S, et al. Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Med, 2004. Reid KJ, et al. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Med, 2010. Hallissey N.,  Agel M.,  Lian B.,  Hoffman D., Policastro P. Association between Amount of Sleep and Body Mass Index in College Students. Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition, Boston, MA, 2010.


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