Scientists from Columbia University in New York (USA) have proven that women who suffer from a lack of sleep or problems falling asleep get more calories and eat unhealthy foods more often.
The study involved 495 women aged 20 to 76 years. Over the course of a year, they had to report the quality of their sleep, the time it took them to fall asleep, and any symptoms of insomnia. The scientists also monitored their diet according to a list of 70 types of food.
Calculations showed that women who complained of poor sleep ate 143 kcal and 100 g more food daily than participants who slept soundly at night. Overall, poor sleep resulted in an additional 4 grams of sugar for every 1,000 calories.
Women who took more than an hour to fall asleep ate an average of 426 more calories than women who took no more than 15 minutes to fall asleep.
Finally, with insomnia, calorie intake increased by 216 units, and the amount of food eaten by 124 g. Women with insomnia preferred fatty foods and received an additional 3 g of sugar per 1000 kcal.
Scientists believe that sleep disturbances lead to the activation of hunger signals or the suppression of satiety signals. Insomnia affects the activity of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in the regulation of food intake.
This study confirms other observations that people with poor sleep quality consume more sugary foods, which increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity.