Getting a proper night’s sleep is one way in which you can prevent your body from craving unhealthy foods and help you eat less each day – yet another reason to snuggle up under your white cotton bed throws.

This is according to an article in Forbes, which cites research from a 2013 study by Columbia University, which found that people who had nine hours of sleep reacted similarly to images of healthy and unhealthy foods.

By contrast, those who had had just four hours’ sleep were more attracted to the unhealthy foods than the healthy options.

Jean-Philippe Chaput, a research scientist at the University of Ottawa, told the publication that changes in hormone levels in relation to appetite and hunger are one of the reasons why we feel more hungry when we’ve had less sleep.

He is especially interested in examining the potential links between sleep, stress and obesity, and noted that the kind of hunger you feel when you’re tired can’t be satisfied with healthy snacks like vegetables and fruit – your body craves all the stuff.

The publication also highlighted the findings from a different study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, which found that sleeping less gives you more time to eat.

That sounds obvious, but researchers discovered that the study participants who slept just four hours a night in their sleep clinic consumed an average of 550 more calories than those who got a full ten hours in bed.

So, with the season of over-indulgence just around the corner, could getting a few early nights help stop you overeating when you’re confronted with a host of festive goodies? The answer would seem to be yes.

Given that research published recently by Aviva revealed that 37% of adults in the UK don’t feel that they are getting enough sleep, it would seem quite a lot of us could be struggling with our food because we’re not getting enough shut-eye.

Interestingly, the survey also showed that adults in the UK are more likely to say they’re sleep deprived than any other country where people were questioned. Ireland was in second, with 34% saying they need more sleep, followed by Canada and the USA both with 31% claiming they need more time in bed.

India and China were the nations with the best sleepers, according to the Aviva research, with just 9% and 10% of adults respectively longing for more time under the sheets.

So, what can you do if you want to get a better night’s rest? Among the top tips offered by the National Sleep Foundation are to get into a regular sleeping pattern and stick to it, even on weekends, to do some exercise each day and to make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

If you haven’t invested in new bedding for a while, it could be time to go shopping for some new goose feather pillows or a quilted mattress protector to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible when you’re trying to nod off.

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