After Thanksgiving: How Overeating and Sleep Problems Interact

Overeating and sleep problems can be two sides of a very uncomfortable coin.

The holidays are upon us, and it’s the classic time to indulge – cookies baked goods, feasts of all kinds await us during winter holidays. In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, when we’ve all loosened our belt buckles a few notches, it’s worth taking a minute to examine the relationships between overindulging our taste buds and lying awake at night staring at the ceiling.

Do Sleep Problems Contribute to Overeating?

A recent report presented at an American Heart Association conference (as reported by TIME) found that sleep deprivation is linked to overeating. The study found that sleep deprived individuals ate over 500 more calories in a day than those who got enough sleep.

The study was small and short-term, and didn’t measure long-term weight changes. But lead author Virend Somers, who is a professor medicine at the Mayo Clinic, told TIME that the “valuable message from this study” is that “cutting down on sleep by a couple of hours a night over the course of a week or so can make you eat an average of 550 more calories a day.” Those extra calories have the potential to add up over time, causing long-term health problems that can include sleep disorders.

Does Overeating Cause Sleep Problems?

When you eat too much, especially in the evening hours, you’re less likely to get a good night’s sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating too much stimulates digestion and can cause discomfort while you’re lying down. That discomfort can take the form of gas, acid reflux (heartburn), or a feeling of tightness in the chest. Any of these symptoms can make it difficult to sleep and increase the chances that you’ll wake up during the night.

Sleep and Eating

Sleep problems and overeating share complex interactions that aren’t fully understood. We do know that the two can create a vicious cycle where the tired body wants to eat more and the overindulged body can’t sleep well. So watch your habits this holiday season – stick to a sleep schedule when you can, and dial it back a notch when it comes to all the holiday feasts. I’m not saying you should deprive yourself… just remember how tired you are before you grab that second piece of cake.

Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist