Sleeping and eating – two of life’s great pleasures. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as gorging on a delicious meal until your belt needs loosening. Or blissfully sleeping in on a Sunday and waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Not only are these two delights pleasurable, but they’re also essential to our existence. We’re inundated with commands to be diligent with our diet and exercise from health practitioners and gurus, but, often overlooked in the trifecta of well-being, is the importance of sleep.
However, there’s emerging evidence that getting a good night’s slumber is equally important as that of a quality diet and exercise regime. Moreover, there’s a symbiotic relationship between eating and sleeping that we need to be mindful of to keep a healthy balance in check. Here’s a look at how what you eat can affect your sleep and how lack of sleep can affect what you eat.
Most of us know that it’s probably a bad idea to crush a few Red Bulls before bed, but as it turns out, our caffeine intake doesn’t have to be nearly that extreme to affect our quality of sleep. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to six hours after you consume it, so if your bedtime is 10 p.m., you’re going to want to cut off the intake at least six hours before that. It’s best not to drink caffeine at all in the afternoon. If you still have trouble falling asleep, you can try some Shut Eye to relax your body and calm your mind.
SPICY AND FATTY FOODS BEFORE BED.
Have you ever been kept up all night with indigestion? The culprit is probably spicy or fatty foods. These kinds of food are harder for the body to digest, so if you eat them before bed, your body will be burning the midnight oil digesting while you’re trying to get some shut eye. If you must have a snack before bed, make it something light and healthy like yogurt or a piece of toast.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SLEEP, MUSCLE, AND BODY FAT.
A lack of sleep can make you gain body fat. It’s hard to believe that just not getting rest could be hazardous to your waistline, but there’s a trickle effect that is detrimental to your overall health. When you sleep, your body repairs your muscles to help them grow. It also burns fat for energy. Skipping out on sleep can lower the body’s muscle mass and contribute to extra fat around the abdomen. A study from the University of Chicago showed that participants lost 55% less fat and 60% more lean tissue if they slept for under six hours per night.
HORMONE IMBALANCE FROM LACK OF SLEEP.
Have you ever noticed that you eat more when you’re tired? That’s the hunger hormone ghrelin at work. When we don’t get enough sleep, a hormone imbalance is created in our bodies. The hormone that makes us feel full (leptin) drops, while the hormone that makes us feel hungry (ghrelin) rises, causing us to eat more. A study found that those without adequate sleep consumed on average 400 more calories per day than those with sufficient sleep.
POOR SLEEP PROMOTES UNHEALTHY CRAVINGS.
Another hard truth about lack of sleep is that it not only makes you eat more, but it makes you crave the worst kinds of food. Research shows that high carbohydrate and high-calorie food intake increased 45% in people with spiked levels of ghrelin. The reward and pleasure-seeking part of the brain is stimulated when we’re sleep-deprived, causing us to seek refined carbohydrates that spike our blood sugar.
THE BEST THINGS TO EAT TO HELP YOU SNOOZE.
For optimal sleep results, it’s best to try to cut out the sugar, increase the fiber, and avoid saturated fats. Research suggests that those with a controlled diet not only fall asleep faster but also have a deeper, more restful slumber. Fiber plays a big role. A study of over 12,000 people showed that the people with the best sleep patterns also consumed the most fiber. The people with the worst sleep patterns (sleeping less than five hours per night) consumed the lowest amount of fiber.
TRY TO STAY HYDRATED ALL DAY LONG.
Drinking water throughout the day has always been encouraged to keep you energized, but it can also affect your sleep. If you aren’t hydrated, your nasal and mouth airways can dry out, which may cause you to snore and have a restless sleep. However, don’t chug water before bed, as this can lead to unwanted bathroom trips in the middle of the night. Your best bet is to drink water consistently throughout the day.
So, what’s the most important thing for our overall health, diet, sleep, or exercise? The answer is a healthy balance of all three. As you’ve just read, neglecting one of these necessities has adverse effects on the others. The key is to try to stay balanced and remember that you have a lot of control regarding your health and well-being.