The Surprising Connection Between Diet and Sleep
Managing your weight may depend on how you sleep, and sleeping well may depend on what you eat. Your diet and sleep are closely connected in many ways, and both are essential to your mental and physical wellbeing.
Practice lifestyle habits that will help you maintain a healthy weight and enhance the quality of your sleep. Consider these strategies to discover positive changes you can start making today.
Change Your Sleeping Habits:
1. Resist cravings. Sleep deprivation interferes with making sound decisions, so you’re more likely to choose French fries instead of a green salad. You’re also less likely to reach for comfort foods when your body feels well-rested.
2. Balance your hormones. Lack of sleep disrupts your hormones. Ghrelin levels rise and Leptin levels fall, making you want to eat more.
3. Boost your metabolism. Your body needs adequate rest in order to process insulin effectively. Otherwise, your metabolism slows down and your body stores more fat.
4. Be consistent. To get sufficient sleep, try going to bed and waking up on a regular schedule. Stick to your routine even on weekends and holidays.
5. Wake up early. Studies show that night owls tend to eat diets higher in unhealthy fats and overall calories. Training yourself to rise earlier may help you lose weight.
6. Adjust the lights. Morning light helps you to become alert, and dark nights help you to fall asleep. Eat breakfast outside or take a walk before work. Close your bedroom curtains at night, and shut off the TV and computer screens an hour or two before you go to bed.
7. Block out the noise. Are you bothered by car alarms and loud neighbors? Drown out background noises with a fan or pink noise machine.
Change Your Eating Habits:
1. Monitor caffeine. Moderate amounts of caffeine are safe for most adults. On the other hand, the stimulating effects can last anywhere from 5 to 12 hours depending on the individual. Cut back on coffee and chocolate if caffeine keeps you up at night.
2. Set a curfew. Digesting heavy meals makes it more difficult to sleep. Avoid late-night snacking or choose something light like a piece of fruit. Stop drinking and eating at least half an hour before bedtime.
3. Drink responsibly. Alcohol may make you sleepy, but you’ll probably toss and turn. Skip the nightcap and drink plain water before bed.
4. Prevent acid reflux. Spicy and acidic foods cause heartburn, and lying down adds to the discomfort. You can help relieve acid reflux symptoms by avoiding triggers like high-fat foods, spicy dishes, citrus fruit, tomatoes, and chocolate.
5. Create rituals. Most experts say that warm milk doesn’t contain enough tryptophan to induce sleepiness. On the other hand, if you find it soothing to drink a cup of milk or eat a slice of turkey breast before bed, it’s a good idea to stick with what works for you.
6. Increase serotonin. Serotonin is one of the main hormones associated with healthy sleep. You can find it in complex carbohydrates like whole-grain bread and brown rice, and herbs like sage and basil. Other good sources include fish, poultry, and nuts.
7. Eat more magnesium. Nutrients like magnesium act as natural muscle relaxants that fight anxiety and encourage sleep. Foods high in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, dairy products, and nuts.
Keep in mind that what you do in the kitchen may affect how you sleep, and what you do in the bedroom may affect how you eat. When you pair good quality sleep with a nutritious diet you reduce your risk for many health conditions, and increase your chances for living a longer and more active life.