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Why You Eat More When You Sleep Less

Lacking sleep and feeling sluggish, extra hungry or especially moody go hand in hand, but why?

There are four hormones that get sent out of balance when we skimp on sleep that disrupt our ability to regulate our appetite and mood:

Cortisol. Known as the stress hormone, cortisol rises with lack of sleep and other stressors. High levels of cortisol prompt fat storage, mood swings and for some people, mindless snacking (or full blown binge-fests).

Ghrelin. This hunger hormone tells your brain you're hungry, or tricks you into feeling starved. Ghrelin increases with poor sleep cycles and is another culprit to your inner snack monster or appetite overload.

Leptin. This peptide hormone is produced by fat cells, and regulates that feeling of fullness, or satiety, and increases when sleep is lacking. When leptin is out of balance, you don't feel full even when you've eaten plenty. If you feel starved but have eaten more than you probably need to, leptin is likely in part to blame.

Serotonin. The happiness hormone. This chemical and neurotransmitter influences both mood and appetite - so if you find yourself mindlessly snacking or stress eating, it could be because your serotonin levels are out of whack and you could use better sleep.

More often that not, improving your sleep cycle is as simple as carving out more time to actually be asleep - not looking at your phone or watching TV - and sticking to it. Though, there are times when schedules are all over the place or traveling to different time zones requires some sort of sleep aid.

Many people think Melatonin is the ideal, but Melatonin alone isn't exactly a cure-all for better rest, since its more of just a precursor for being able to wind down to fall asleep so isn't going to be what keeps you sleeping longer. Herbal teas, like peppermint or chamomile can be helpful in relaxing with a cozy hot cup before bed, but usually aren't enough for someone who's mind is going a million miles a minute or when a time change is working against you getting enough sleep. You won't want to rely on a sleep aid to get you better rest, every single night, but its definitely helpful for nights you just can't get to sleep.

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