More Info »"/>

The Triton

Career

There is a link between weight gain and shut eye

ADVERTISEMENT

Yacht charters are a 24-hour business. There’s always one client who wants to stay up until the wee hours and another who considers sunup the perfect time for a swim or yoga on deck. Both scenarios mean staying up late or getting up early to take care of a client’s hospitality needs.

More than feeling groggy, sleep deprivation from such a crazy schedule can lead to weight gain and, with it, a risk for chronic problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Some of this is due to diet. After all, who hasn’t raided the galley for cookies in the middle of the night or reached for a sugary donut to wake up?

There are more factors than willpower at play. Thankfully, there are things we can do to short circuit the sleep-less-weigh-more effect.

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can make us feel hungry, so we therefore eat more. The calories in this extra food are more than what is burned by simply being awake longer, so the pounds can pile on over time.

What is really interesting is that researchers from the University of Chicago earlier this year dove down to the molecular level to find out what caused the sleep-deprived munchies. They discovered that a lack of shut-eye has the same effects in the body as activation of what’s called the endocannabinoid (eCB) system. This system is important to the brain’s regulation of appetite and energy levels.

The eCB system, which is better known for coming alive by the key chemicals in marijuana, can create a ferocious appetite for especially pleasure-provoking junk foods such as the cookies, candies and chips offered to the subjects in this study. In other words, being sleep deprived cues a hedonic response for certain foods while at the same time weakening willpower, especially for high-calorie goodies.

Shift work and chronic jet-lag can also upset the applecart of the body’s circadian rhythm and lead to weight gain. Researchers in Brazil published an article earlier this year that showed when the subjects, nurses in this case, switched from daytime to night shifts, they had twice the likelihood of gaining an extra 10 pounds. Interestingly, there appeared no increased weight risk to changing from a night to daytime shift.

Here are three tips from the National Sleep Foundation in Washington, D.C., on how to battle weight gain from lack of sleep.

  1. Have healthy foods on hand. Knowing that we are more likely to snack on high-sugar, high-fat foods when we’re tired is a good opportunity to be sure to have good-for-you goodies on hand. Suggestions include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, hummus and whole grain crackers, salsa and 100 percent corn chips, fat-free fruit yogurt, and hot or cold unsweetened cereal and fat-free milk.
  2. Sit down and eat. Resist the urge to grab snacks running from one duty to another. This puts the body at a Code Red for mindless snacking. Instead, sit down, eat, relax and savor a meal.
  3. Resist the caffeine rush. Caffeinated beverages can certainly pep us up when we’re sleep deprived. They can also leave us too wired to fall asleep when we need to. Instead, drink water or water spiked with a squeeze of lemon, lime or other fruit, or vegetables such as cucumber. The double bonus is that since sensations of hunger and thirst are triggered the same way in our bodies, hydrating can actually quench an appetite.

Carol Bareuther is a registered dietitian and freelance health and nutrition writer. Comments are welcome below.

Related Posts...
What do chicken, turkey, cucumbers and peanut butter have in Read more...
Take It In: by Carol Bareuther Fasting -- the simple Read more...
Take It In: by Carol Bareuther Berries are nature’s candy, Read more...
Take It In: by Carol Bareuther Say the word snack and Read more...
Take It In: Carol Bareuther Sauerkraut, pickles and yogurt. No, Read more...

Share This Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the question below to leave a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Editor’s Picks

Victoria International Marina opens for yachts this summer

Victoria International Marina opens for yachts this summer

After more than 30 years in the making, the $17.8 million (24 million Canadian dollars) Victoria International Marina is on track to …

NY marina now ready for megayachts

NY marina now ready for megayachts

Large yachts headed to New England this summer can now call on Danfords Marina in Port Jefferson, N.Y. The recently renovated marina now …

It’s all in the family for RPM’s Rubano

It’s all in the family for RPM’s Rubano

By Dorie Cox Every day, Joseph J. "Joe" Rubano scrolls through his online calendar list of 63 employees to see who has a birthday or …

Owner’s View: Text on your own time

Owner’s View: Text on your own time

Owner's View: by Peter Herm This article is about the now ubiquitous smartphone and the crew management challenges it creates. The …