I do not think that we talk often enough about rest and sleep and their connection with our general health and weight management. Not only that they are connected, but the way we eat, our nutrition, can also influence not only our weight management, which is not a big news to anyone, but it can also influence how well we sleep. It is called Sleep Nutrition.
An average adult should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day.
So, how well are you doing?
Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
Are you perhaps waking up a lot during the night and then finding it difficult to fall back to sleep?
Are you waking up tired and feeling unsettled or irritable throughout the day?
If any of this is you, I hope this article will be able to shed a bit of light and, ultimately, help.
Personally, sleep is very important to me. As a health coach, I eat well by default, however, I have noticed a pattern – if I do not sleep well or enough – my mood is effected and so is my immunity.
One of the reasons I love wearing a device such as FitBit is not only to measure I get enough activity each day, but also it tracks the quality of my sleep. And, usually, statistics are directly related to how well I feel in the morning. If I had over 7 hours of quality sleep, clocking in both REM and Deep sleep – I feel good.
Not so good on 5 hours. There were months on end when I did not get more than 5 hours when children were little. Sometimes I wonder how I survived, although, I must say, some of that period is a big blur. Any new parent can probably relate to this. All I can tell you – it WILL pass, there IS light at the end of the tunnel.
Lack of sleep is actually more serious than just the fact that we do not feel so hot on that day! It can effect our health as well as how well we feel and food choices we make throughout the day.
Science suggests that there is relationship between sleep quality and excess weight and that it goes both ways:
- Not getting enough sleep is causing weight gain.
- Carrying excess weight is also causing impaired sleep.
And here are just a few reasons why:
- Several studies have shown that if you sleep is reduced, you may eat an additional 385 calories per day – whilst you are not spending any more energy. Of course, excess calories mean “weight gain”.
- Studies also show that those with shorter sleep duration do not only consume more calories in total, but they also consume more calories at night, which also may be the reason behind lack of sleep.
- Also, food intake and nutritional status have been linked to sleep reduction and daytime sleepiness.
It really can be like a vicious cycle, so, it is important to be aware how you could improve your sleep:
- Switch off any electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed as they have been found to disrupt the natural sleep pattern. The blue light emitted by mobile phone, computer, tablet screens reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycle or, so-called, circadian rhythm. Reduction of melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Exposing yourself to screen time whilst in bed, just before bed time, is a recipe for a restless sleep. In these modern times, this is one thing that most of us are fighting with and need more discipline.
- Another thing you should do is limit your caffeine intake in the afternoon and evenings. Caffeine suppresses melatonin for up to 10 hours and this includes green tea not just coffee and regular tea. I am big on green tea and used to drink it into the night and only after making a conscious effort to stop having it after an early afternoon – my sleep improved.
- Making sure we go to sleep at an optimal time for our body is also important. A an example, if I am waking up at 5:30 AM – I know I have to go to bed by 10AM the latest to be able to get at least 7 hours of sleep. So, having discipline is important and adjusting our body clock to our social clock.
- Some habits like smoking, alcohol consumption, or even exercising at the wrong time might worsen sleep duration and sleep quality.
- Research shows that our nutrition during the day plays a big part in our sleep quality.
Let’s see what nutritional factors in particular have been found to influence sleep and what the solutions may be…
- Studies find that higher levels of Omega 3 in diet are associated with better sleep. Those with higher levels of Omega 3 fats in diet experience less sleep disturbances and less resistance to going to sleep. I personally ensure a lot of omega 3 rich fish in my diet (at least three times per week) and I also supplement daily with high quality Omega 3 fish oil with sustainably sourced fish oils high in omega 3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA). (HerbalifelineMax, Herbalife Nutrition)
- Several vitamins and minerals also play part in getting a good sleep. Calcium and magnesium in particular. Magnesium aids muscle relaxation (stress and sugar consumption lowers magnesium), so, while it is important to eat foods rich in those nutrients, it is a good general advice to take a high-quality multivitamin & mineral tablet. I am not so hot on taking individual vitamins and minerals separately as they together work in a perfect synergy and, for them to work well, they each need to be in the right amounts. One single quality multivitamin and mineral ensures that balance. (Formula 2, Herbalife Nutrition)
- We should make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. If you are not too keen on water alone, try to infuse it with berries or lemon or lime juice. I love a dash of our Mango Aloe Concentrate added to my water or Herbal tea. It is a great alternative to high-calorie, sugary soft drinks.
- Results of two trials shows that sleep quality could be improved by consuming more energy from protein. When it comes to protein, it is important to reach our daily protein requirement and it is also important, unless you are already vegan or vegetarian, to consume at least half of your daily protein requirement from plant sources. Our Formula 1 Meal Replacement or Pro20 Select, a water mixable shake, are both a great way to add more plant protein to your diet, as well as essential nutrients and fibre, without too many calories.
So, sleep nutrition as we call it is very important. It also includes food timings as well as nutritional balance.
We worry about what we eat, how often we exercise or how much sleep we get and to achieve a healthy active lifestyle, all of these 3 aspects are equally important, but there is more to this…
- Our bodes follow 24 hour cycle, so, WHEN we eat is just as important as what we eat. Research confirms that the timing of food intake may play a role in weight regulation.
- Eating balanced meals regularly throughout the day is important as well as eating your last meal at least 3 hours prior to going to sleep to allow your digestive system to process the food in time.
- At the same time, if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with heart pounding or in a sweat, you may be experiencing a blood sugar low, so, having a very small protein rich snack one hour before bed time might solve the problem, but nothing too much – couple of table spoons of yoghurt with a couple of almonds, as an example, just enough to keep those blood sugar levels in check.
You CAN improve the quality of your sleep with the developing healthy sleeping habits as well as healthy nutrition.
If you would like to reach out and try some of our nutritional solutions mentioned above, please do, I would love to help. Or speak to your own coach, if you already have one!
Until next time, wishing you a quality sleep and plenty of good rest!