Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Even when you do get to sleep, do you wake up halfway through the night and make a run for the refrigerator? Do you struggle to get back to sleep after making the run? If so, the reason for your insomnia could be sitting in your refrigerator. And it could also be the reason you can't lose weight.

Researchers recently found out that a certain type of food disrupts the circadian clocks of mice. The circadian rhythm controls the metabolic functions in your body, such as sleep cycles and appetite control. This food threw off the animals' internal signals that tell them when to sleep and when to eat. They ended up eating extra calories at a time when they normally would have been asleep or resting. For us, that's like raiding the pantry or the refrigerator in the middle of the night.

So what is this food? It's fat. And the more fat you eat, the more likely it is to mess up your sleep cycle and appetite control.

But that's not all a high-fat diet does to your body. It actually changes the DNA in your brain and body tissues (such as the liver). These changes in the DNA can disrupt your circadian clock indefinitely.

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The researchers claim this change in DNA creates a "vicious loop." The fat causes insomnia and appetite problems. It also changes your DNA, which regulates your internal clock. And that disrupted clock makes you want more fat, which makes your insomnia and appetite problem worse.

This research was a surprise to me, but it makes sense. It helps explain why it can be so hard to correct a bad diet. A bad diet creates a vicious cycle maintaining the indiscretion. You have to make a decision to change your diet and stand by it. Doing so will eventually alter your body's demands and it will become easier to stay on a good diet.

So if you want to get better sleep and lose weight, then slow down on the fatty foods, especially at night.

Ref: Science Daily, November 7, 2007; Cell Metabolism, November 2007, Vol 6, 414-421, 07.

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