As per the study published in the journal, Appetite,.many studies have looked at how sleep influences eating habits. Research suggests sleep deprivation interferes with hunger and satiety hormones crucial to regulating appetite. But the study authors suggest that the relationship works both ways, and that diet can alter sleep as well. Some of the interactions are well known already, such as how drinking too much water and interrupt sleep by waking you up to use the bathroom, or how consuming heavy and spicy foods can keep you up, but there may be less apparent effects as well.
“For example, iron deficiencies have been linked to restless leg syndrome in some cases. There may be certain substances that work on the molecular level to regulate some of the biological machinery of sleep, but there hasn’t been a lot done to tease that apart, and this study may be one of the first to help point us in the right direction of where to look,” says Grandner.
Further work may clarify whether the relationship is as complicated as short sleep disrupting the body’s ability to process calories, or as simple as people who report very short sleep also under reporting the amount they eat. Still, there is the potential that scientists could one day determine the right mix of calories and nutrients to promote better sleep, which could become a low-cost strategy to curb obesity and heart disease.