Nutrition and sleep - the connection no one talks about
Believe it or not, sleep is the most important routine of your day. Sleep helps you stay energetic, improves your memory, makes you more productive and even helps you lose weight! In fact, sleep does more for our bodies than we can imagine—making it essential for everyone to get at least seven hours of shut-eye every night.
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, and proteins. A well-balanced diet helps our body get all the nutrition it needs to stay healthy and sleep well throughout the night. Most of our nutrition comes from food. Adequate nutrition is the basis of good health and helps us keep diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease at bay.
What you eat is how you sleep
Everyone knows that it is difficult to sleep if you’ve stuffed yourself with a whole pizza, gone ballistic on the cake in the fridge or found a bowl of fries too tempting. Overeating causes bloating and abdominal distress, making sleep hard to come by. But did you know that sleep and nutrition are deeply connected?
Good Nutrition = Good Sleep = Good Nutrition = Good Sleep
I could go on, but it is better to help you understand this connection so you can make healthier choices in life. Here’s how:
Sleep helps you lose weight
If you’ve noticed, all weight-loss plans include 7-8 hours of sleep. This is because your BMI and sleep are closely related. So, if you sleep better, you eat better and stay healthier! Sleeping well helps you wake up energized, reducing the need to reach out for high-calorie foods to prep you for the day ahead. This leads to an overall change in your diet, creating a chain reaction, which ultimately leads to a leaner, healthier you.
Your diet determines your quality of sleep
If you’re finding it difficult to stay asleep, the culprit might be what you choose to eat!
Eating high-calorie foods before bedtime can decrease the amount of restorative sleep you get.
Fatty or high-protein foods such as steaks, bacon and fried foods can make you feel uncomfortably full, disrupting your sleep pattern and making it difficult to stay asleep.
Caffeine and sugary drinks elevate your blood pressure and keep you awake. Drinking caffeine-rich soft drinks is worse—as they contain stimulants that naturally inhibit sleep.
Alcohol is excellent as a wind-down drink, but not right before bedtime. Once the effects of alcohol wear off, you might find it difficult to fall asleep again. Additionally, frequent urination due to alcohol consumption breaks your sleep cycle.
Spicy foods before bedtime can cause heartburn and acid reflux, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Choosing the right foods throughout the day can help you sleep better. Foods that help you sleep better include:
Fibre-rich foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains digest slowly, keep you full for longer and help you sleep better.
Low-fat proteins such as fish, lean poultry, eggs, legumes and dairy help you to eat smaller portions and give your digestive system the rest it needs.
Why choose a balanced diet for good sleep?
Eating a balanced meal with the required carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals helps your body get all the nutrients it needs. These nutrients keep you full for a long time and help you wake up energized the following day. Additionally, most of these foods also help maintain or reduce your body weight, further helping you stay healthy.
Obesity is the primary cause of dangerous diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. OSA is linked to and is a causal factor for life-threatening conditions such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Incorporating a well-balanced meal into your daily routine will help you sleep better, wake up happier and lead a healthier life.