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The Role Sleep Plays in Binge Eating | Part 4 of our Be Binge Free in the New Year Series

In the fourth part of our New Year's series that is going to help you Be Binge Free in 2024, we're going to tackle all things sleep and the role it plays when it comes to binge eating.


We'll cover exactly how sleep impacts binge eating behaviours, hunger signals, mood and how you can have a perfect night's sleep and continue to step forward on your journey to Be Binge Free.


Check out our video over at the myprotein youtube channel for some quick and easy tips!



Let's get started! (and we hope that our other articles so far have proved helpful and if you have any questions don't think twice about sending us a message!)


Are you struggling with binge eating? While many factors can contribute to this behavior, one area that is often overlooked is sleep. Yes, you read that right, sleep plays a crucial role in binge eating. Research has shown that there is a strong connection between sleep deprivation and increased food cravings, especially for high-calorie and sugary foods.


Understanding the Connection Between Sleep and Binge Eating

Sleep and binge eating may seem unrelated at first, but numerous studies have demonstrated the significant impact sleep has on our eating behaviors. One of the key ways poor sleep contributes to binge eating is through the disruption of hunger and satiety hormones. When we don't get enough sleep, our bodies produce more ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating appetite, while simultaneously reducing the production of leptin, the hormone that signals fullness.


A lady sleeping

Not only does sleep deprivation affect our hormones, but it also impairs our cognitive functions, including self-control and decision-making abilities. When we're sleep-deprived, our brain's prefrontal cortex, responsible for rational decision-making, becomes less active, making it harder to resist unhealthy food choices. This lack of self-control can lead to impulsive eating and a higher likelihood of engaging in binge eating episodes.


The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Appetite Regulation

Sleep deprivation not only affects the hormones involved in appetite regulation but also has a direct impact on our brain's reward system. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep increases our brain's response to food rewards, particularly high-calorie and sugary foods. This heightened reward response makes these foods more appealing, leading to increased cravings and a greater likelihood of binge eating.


Furthermore, lack of sleep can lead to increased stress levels, which further exacerbate binge eating behaviors. Sleep deprivation activates the body's stress response system, triggering the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can increase appetite and drive individuals to seek comfort in food, particularly high-fat and high-sugar options.


The Role of Stress and Emotions in Binge Eating and Sleep Disturbance

Stress and emotions play a significant role in both binge eating and sleep disturbance. Chronic stress can disrupt our sleep patterns, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Additionally, stress can trigger emotional eating episodes, where individuals turn to food for comfort and stress relief.


The relationship between stress, emotions, and sleep is complex. When we're stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol, which can interfere with the quality of our sleep. Conversely, lack of sleep can increase our stress levels, creating a vicious cycle that perpetuates both sleep disturbances and binge eating behaviors.


Sleep Hygiene Tips to Improve Sleep Quality

Improving sleep quality is crucial for managing binge eating behaviors. By adopting healthy sleep habits, you can regulate your appetite and reduce the risk of engaging in binge eating episodes. Here are some tips to improve your sleep hygiene:

  1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body's internal clock, promoting better sleep quality.

  2. Create a conducive sleep environment: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or white noise machines to create an optimal sleep environment.

  3. Limit exposure to electronic devices before bedtime: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Avoid using electronic devices at least an hour before bed.

  4. Practice relaxation techniques: Engaging in relaxation exercises like deep breathing, meditation, or gentle stretching before bedtime can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.

  5. Avoid stimulating substances: Limit your consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, as they can disrupt your sleep patterns and contribute to sleep disturbances.

Implementing these sleep hygiene tips can significantly improve your sleep quality and reduce the likelihood of engaging in binge eating behaviors.



A messy bed


The Importance of a Structured Eating Schedule

In addition to prioritizing quality sleep, establishing a structured eating schedule is crucial for managing binge eating. Eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevents excessive hunger, which can trigger binge eating episodes. Here are some strategies to establish a structured eating schedule:

  1. Plan and prepare your meals in advance: Knowing what you'll eat and having healthy options readily available makes it easier to stick to a structured eating schedule.

  2. Eat balanced meals: Include a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in each meal to provide sustained energy and promote feelings of fullness.

  3. Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues, and eat slowly to fully enjoy and savor your food. Mindful eating can help prevent overeating and promote a healthier relationship with food.

  4. Avoid skipping meals: Skipping meals can lead to extreme hunger, making it more likely for you to overeat or engage in binge eating later in the day.

By implementing a structured eating schedule, you can better regulate your appetite and reduce the likelihood of engaging in binge eating behaviors.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Binge Eating and Sleep Disorders

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely recognized and effective treatment for both binge eating and sleep disorders. CBT aims to identify and modify negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that contribute to these issues. Through CBT, individuals learn coping strategies to manage stress, improve sleep hygiene, and develop healthier eating habits.


CBT for binge eating often includes techniques such as self-monitoring, identifying triggers, and implementing alternative coping strategies. Similarly, CBT for sleep disorders focuses on improving sleep hygiene, challenging negative sleep-related thoughts, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule.

If you're struggling with binge eating and sleep disturbances, seeking the help of a qualified therapist trained in CBT can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome these challenges.


Medications and Supplements for Improving Sleep and Reducing Binge Eating

In some cases, medication or supplements may be prescribed to help improve sleep quality and reduce binge eating behaviors. However, it's important to note that these should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Some commonly prescribed medications for sleep include sedatives, antidepressants, and melatonin supplements.


When it comes to managing binge eating, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and appetite suppressants may be prescribed in certain situations. However, it's essential to remember that medication should always be combined with behavioral interventions and lifestyle changes for long-term success.


Steal our Exact Sleep Protocol

Here are some basic tips and points for a quality sleep routine;


Foundations;

First, focus on actually setting yourself up a sleep routine - this is your blueprint for quality sleep;

  • When you plan to go to bed

  • When you plan to brush your teeth and get ready for bed

  • Having a relaxation time focused for before bed (at least 30 minutes)

  • When you plan to wake up


Supplements to assist;

Magnesium Bisglycinate (200 - 250g per night) -Magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed and may have calming properties. It may help reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. Effective supplement for helping people get to sleep more readily.


L-Theanine (100-400mg) -The main benefits of L-theanine are associated with promoting a relaxed state without causing drowsiness. Though it does not provide any sedative-like effects, L-theanine enhances sleep quality by promoting a more relaxed state in the brain.


Apigenin (2.4-8.1 mg/kg) -Apigenin is a bioflavonoid compound (specifically a flavone) that is found in a wide variety of plants and herbs. It is very abundant in chamomile tea, and exerts anxiety-reducing effects when consumed in these high doses. At even higher doses, it may be sedative.


Additional beneficial adjuncts;

It may also be worth installing a bluelight filter app on your phone to help reduce any of the impact it is having on the time taken for you to get to sleep.


I would also look into investing into lavender aromatherapy to help relax you after a stressful day. Either lavender spray / mist, a diffuser with essential oils or even a lavender scented pillow would all be good options.


A final important note would be temperature; a bedroom too hot or too cold can affect your ability to get to, and stay, asleep. Somewhere between 15.6 to 19.4 degrees celsius appears to be best for peak comfort.


Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Sleep plays a significant role in binge eating behaviors. Lack of sleep disrupts the delicate balance of hunger and satiety hormones, impairs self-control, increases stress levels, and triggers emotional eating. By prioritizing quality sleep and adopting healthy sleep habits, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a conducive sleep environment, you can help regulate your appetite and reduce the risk of binge eating.


Additionally, establishing a structured eating schedule, practicing mindful eating, and seeking support through cognitive-behavioral therapy can further contribute to managing binge eating and improving sleep quality. Remember, overcoming binge eating and sleep disturbances is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to seek help when needed.


By understanding the connection between sleep and binge eating and implementing the strategies discussed in this article, you can take proactive steps towards better sleep, healthier eating habits, and improved overall well-being. So, prioritize your sleep, nourish your body with balanced meals, and seek the support you need to break free from the cycle of binge eating and sleep deprivation. Your health and happiness are worth it.


Article summary;

  • Installing a bluelight filter app on your phone can help reduce the impact on sleep.

  • Lavender aromatherapy, such as spray, diffuser, or scented pillow, can help relax after a stressful day.

  • Maintaining a temperature between 15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius is best for comfortable sleep.

  • Lack of sleep disrupts hunger and satiety hormones, impairs self-control, increases stress levels, and triggers emotional eating.

  • Prioritizing quality sleep, adopting healthy sleep habits, and seeking support can help regulate appetite and reduce binge eating.

  • Establishing a structured eating schedule, practicing mindful eating, and seeking cognitive-behavioral therapy can further manage binge eating and improve sleep quality.

  • Understanding the connection between sleep and binge eating and implementing strategies can lead to better sleep, healthier eating habits, and improved well-being. Prioritize sleep, nourish the body, and seek support to break free from the cycle of binge eating and sleep deprivation.

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