Get Your Zzzs to Prevent the Munchies

It’s late afternoon. You’re feeling tired, hungry, and stressed out. Or you finally sit down after a long day, and want to stuff your face with food.

Trying to hustle a 9-5 day job can do that to you. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, so can taking care of kids 24/7. Even when you’re on vacation, you might feel this way. And a lot of people who reach this tipping point on an average day, do the same thing. They eat. Head to the vending machine and drop in some money for a soda and a candybar. Hit the nearest drive-thru for a burger, shake and fries. Or raid the pantry at home for some sweet treats.

Sound familiar? You might not even be that hungry. But if you’re tired and stressed out, food has a way of making you feel better. And that’s not exactly a good plan if you’re trying to watch your weight.

Better sleep habits curb cravings

Here’s what’s interesting. Your sleep habits may be to blame for the mid-afternoon munchies or late-night snacking.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that people were most likely to make snap decisions about food to improve their mood, or because they lacked self-control to curb their appetite. In either case, researchers believe lack of sleep contributes to both reasons for overeating. If you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, you’ll have some self-control when it comes to food choices.

“A good night’s sleep can make workers replenished and feel vigorous again,” says research co-author Dr. Chu-Hsiang Chang. “[Sleep] may make them better able to deal with stress at work the next day and less vulnerable to unhealthy eating.”

Take a look at your sleep habits. Are you getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night? If not, look for ways you can change this such as:

  • Less exposure to electronics near bedtime
  • New/more comfortable bed
  • Cool, dark, and quiet sleeping area
  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • No large meals or caffeine before bed.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard. But you do need to be prepared to deal with the munchies when you feel the need to eat. Having a healthy snack or meal on hand, is a great way to be prepared when this happens. Check out the Portion Control menu, and you’ll find tasty entrees and snacks that won’t compromise your diet.