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Cart before the horse

Thinking you’d like to clean up your eating habits this New Year? If so, you won’t be alone. But what if our sleeping habits are thwarting our best efforts to eat more healthily?

It turns out there’s a growing evidence base to suggest that poor sleep leads us to crave junk food. Ipso facto, unless we first clean up our sleeping habits, we may still find ourselves reaching for those leftover Christmas treats to top up our energy levels.

It’s fair to say there’s more research needed in this area as some of the studies that have been compiled to date are small in the context of clinical research – for a good introductory write up see https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/can-lack-sleep-make-you-crave-junk-food/. But, whether you’d like more research or not, there’s an undeniable common sense logic here and most of us have our own anecdotal experience.

Whether it’s parents of babies dunking extra biscuits in their tea after another disturbed night, students who’ve been revising late into the night craving fast food or an only-chocolate-will-do day on the longest day ever in the office after a night at the pub – we’ve all been there. We’ve all known and experienced that instinct to reach for the junk when we’re exhausted.

As to whether this instinct comes from our bodies craving extra energy, weakened resolve or just our way of staying awake, we’ll leave this for the researchers to determine. But one thing’s clear: if we think our poor eating habits may be linked to poor sleeping habits, it’s probably time to stop putting the cart before the horse and address the causal issue.

For top tips on how to revive your sleep see our Redux blog coming soon.