We’ve talked before about how sleep apnea can make it hard for you to lose weight by interfering with weight hormones and making it harder to exercise. Now researchers have identified another link between obesity and sleep apnea : distracted eating.

The Link between Distracted Eating and Poor Sleep

variety of snacks and candyResearchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) used data from the American Time and Use Survey (ATUS), conducted between 2006 and 2008. ATUS data includes responses from more than 28,000 Americans on all aspects of how they spent their days, including their eating and drinking habits.

They found that Americans who got less sleep (defined as six hours or less), spent significantly more time on distracted eating. Distracted eating is when you eat food or drink beverages other than water while doing other things, such as snacking while watching TV. People who got six hours of sleep or less a night spent about 9 minutes more a day on distracted eating, and spent about 29 minutes more in distracted drinking per weekday and 31 minutes more per weekend day (probably coffee or other caffeinated beverages).

It was not in the study to look at how many calories this represented, but if we assume that the extra time eating accounted for one 100-Calorie snack pack, and the extra time drinking accounts for one extra can of Coke, we end up with an additional 240 Calories a day from distracted eating. Assuming all other factors stay the same, that would result in an extra pound of weight gain every other week!

Are You Eating to Fight off Sleepiness?

Many people use distracted eating and drinking as a way to help them keep focused on their work when they began to feel tired in the afternoon. One reason why you may be feeling tired in the afternoon is sleep apnea. In fact, afternoon consumption of caffeinated beverages has been linked to sleep apnea. If you find yourself snacking in the afternoon to try to stay awake, you should talk to a doctor or sleep dentist about your risk of sleep apnea.

If you are looking for a sleep dentist in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.