With the impending stress and constant setbacks that we experience in life, the same does end up taking a toll on our mental health in the long run. The worst part of the mix is that we don’t even realize that the same is affecting our mental health and our sleeping cycle for the worse. But, how does your lack of sleep affect your health, especially in the case of women?
A new study (R) conducted by the researchers from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that lack of sleep quality triggers the consumption of unhealthy food and unnecessary food cravings, leading to the enhanced risks of heart disease and obesity.
There have already been a number of studies conducted to point out and highlight the impacts of the lack of sleep on the health of an individual. They did find that the same triggers the condition of diabetes, heart diseases and even obesity in individuals. This study was thus done with a different approach.
The researchers involved in this study focused on a group of nutrients and dietary additions including fish, sweets and saturated fats and its impacts on the sleep duration and not the sleep quality. This study was conducted to get a more comprehensive look at the bigger picture correlating the sleep duration, quality with the kind of diet that the women consumed.
Brooke Aggarwal, EdD, assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, who is also the senior author of the study stated saying that women are always at a greater risk of not getting enough sleep or good quality sleep. The reason behind the same is believed to be because of the constant responsibility of a family or even because of the menopausal hormonal changes in the body.
This specific study was conducted with around 500 women to get a better understanding of things. The researchers focused on a diverse group of women hailing from different ethnicities. Their ages also varied between 20 to 76 years of age.
The three main factors that the researchers focused on in this study included the sleep quality, the duration of the sleep, how fast one fell asleep and the signs of insomnia in women. The women also had to report on the kinds of foods that they were consuming. This helped the researchers get a glimpse into the dietary patterns of the individuals.
Much like some of the prior studies, even this one found that the women who had poor quality sleep reported to consume more sugar and unhealthy foods which were later associated with the risks of diabetes and obesity.
The women in the study who took a longer time to fall asleep were found to consume higher calorie levels with their food than what was actually needed. On the other hand, the women who suffered from insomnia were the ones who not just consumed more calories but also consumed unsaturated fats that were bad for their health.
Aggarwal suggested saying that the reason why this condition could be linked with poor eating habits is because of the cravings that they experience instead of getting quality sleep. This could make them make unhealthy food choices instead.
Faris Zuraikat, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, who is the lead author of the study found that poor sleep quality is associated with the excessive calorie intake and unhealthy food cravings because of the lack of satiety signals and the hormonal disbalance that are associated with hunger.
Zuraikat believes that women who tend to struggle with insomnia are likely going to eat more to feel full because of the messed up hunger signals, leading to overeating and the risks of obesity and other chronic diseases. Such women are likely going to eat more volumes of food and high calorific foods too.
But, the unhealthy eating patterns further relays down to the sleep quality, causing impacts on the quality of sleep. People who tend to overeat are likely going to experience gastrointestinal issues which can further make it harder for you to fall asleep.
The researchers are now working on further studies to find therapies to cure the issues related to sleep cycles to further reduce the unnecessary risks associated with obesity and in turn, with the conditions of the heart disease and other chronic diseases that later affect the quality of living and the risks of mortality as well.