03/06/2015 08:19 BST | Updated 03/06/2015 08:59 BST

Sleep Deprivation May Lead To Over-Eating And Obesity, Researchers Suggest

If you find yourself over-eating, it may be your sleeping habits that are to blame.

According to new analysis of the links between diet and sleep, the more tired a person is, the more likely they are to consume more food than their body needs.

Over-eating can lead to obesity, which has been linked to a range of other health problems including heart disease and diabetes.

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Writing in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers Alyssa Lundahl and Timothy D Nelson from the University of Nebraska said after a after a bad night's sleep, the hormone controlling appetite is affected and emotional stress is greater.

This leads to a person having a greater desire for food than they would otherwise, as they wish to compensate for their lack of energy by consuming calories.

Their analysis also revealed that an individual's impulsivity is also increased when they are sleep deprived, which is also likely to affect the amount of food they consume in a day.

"It is well recognised that food intake is implicated in many chronic health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and diet is often a target of treatment to prevent the onset of these conditions", Lundahl and Nelson said in a statement.

However, they continued: "understanding the mechanisms linking disrupted sleep patterns to increased food intake is important for informing both prevention and treatment interventions for chronic health conditions."

Both researchers have called on health professionals to be more mindful of the links between sleep and food consumption when advising and treating patients.

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Lundahl and Nelson aren't the first scientists to suggest weight problems and sleep deprivation are related.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that people who live in areas with high levels of noise pollution, such as next to a main road, were more likely to be overweight compared to people who live in quiet areas.

The study found that for every five decibel increase above the standard traffic noise level of 45dB, the average person gains an extra 0.2cm on their waist measurement.

The researchers concluded that noise pollution leads to sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep causes reduced energy levels, which can then lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and make residents less willing to exercise.

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