As a pretty solid sleeper myself I really empathize with people who struggle to sleep because on the rare occasion I have had what I would describe as sleep deprivation I have been moody, unfocused and in need of sugar fixes (or at least that’s what I told myself!)
So, how does poor sleep affect your eating habits?
It’s likely to increase your food intake – On the rare occasion I have struggled to sleep eating has been a favourite way to pass the time. And a study carried out by the Mayo Clinic in 2012 found that those individuals who didn’t get enough sleep consumed approximately 549 calories more per day.
Late night snacks could become your norm – Here’s the thing, when you are losing sleep you are likely to feel more tired. If you feel more tired you’ll probably want to exercise less and eat more. Late night snacks might become a habit you don’t want so think before you eat.
The types of food you crave are unlikely to be good quality – Never having lost sleep have I thought ‘I’ll just go and get me a salad’. No, not a chance! Chocolate, crisps and all things sweet (loaded with calories & fat) tend to be the food of choice. Read ‘How sleep deprivation makes us want to eat fat‘
Poor quality food equates to poor nourishment – Ultimately adding up the results above also means you are likely to deprive your body of the food types it needs to repair, recover and function well.
Okay, that’s all a bit doom and gloom so lets think about what can be done to aid sleep. Here are some fab food tips taken from ‘Foods that help you sleep’ slideshow that could help:
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan. It is a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. Also walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.
Cheese and crackers – one of my favourites! Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin.
Lettuce – it contains lactucarium, which has sedative property and affects the brain in a similar way to opium (yikes; is that a good thing??!)
Fish high in vitamin B6 – required by your body to make melatonin and serotonin (pistachios & raw garlic are also great sources of B6).
White rice – it has a high glycemic index (a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar level), so eating it will cut the time it takes you to fall asleep, according to an Australian study.
Chamomile Tea – According to researchers, chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.
Honey – A spoonful before bed (or with chamomile tea) could give you a more restful sleep. Key takeaway here; eat better food to aid sleep in the first instance and should you have a poor night’s sleep be aware of what you are eating.
Don’t let bad habits set in… Eat to sleep.
One health, live it well!