Have you ever noticed that when you have poor sleep, the following day, you eat more, your food choices are higher in fat and carbs (not the good kind either), and your mood, motivation to exercise and patience is generally lower? If this happened on a regular basis how do you think that would impact your life? Have you ever thought about it? Or are you on a continuing "daily grind" and not in-tune to your thoughts, energy levels and body?
According to the Sleep Foundation, numerous studies have suggested that restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.
HOW DOES SLEEP AFFECT APPETITE
The neurotransmitters ghrelin and leptin are thought to be central to appetite. Ghrelin promotes hunger, and leptin contributes to feeling full. The body naturally increases and decreases the levels of these neurotransmitters throughout the day, signaling the need to consume calories.
A lack of sleep may affect the body’s regulation of these neurotransmitters. In one study, men who got 4 hours of sleep had increased ghrelin (promoting hunger) and decreased leptin (signaling fullness) compared to those who got 10 hours of sleep. This dysregulation of ghrelin and leptin may lead to increased appetite and diminished feelings of fullness in people who are sleep deprived.
In addition, several studies have also indicated that sleep deprivation affects food preferences. Sleep-deprived individuals tend to choose foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates. Over time this interference with hormone regulation causes low mood, an increase in depression, an increase in stress (and coping mechanisms), a foggy mind, decreased immune system (constantly getting sick), a reduced desire to exercise and a lower energy and endurance capacity.
THE GOOD NEWS
It is in your hands to change this! Just like our children have a "bedtime routine", we adults also benefit in having one. A quality sleep starts in the morning (with a morning an evening routine).
Wake at the same time (preferably with natural light).
Exercise in the morning to wake up your mind and body- even 15 minutes is a good start.
Get direct daylight sun (around 20 mins during the day), to encourage the secretion of natural daytime hormones to get your circadian rhythm on track.
Decrease caffeine during the day and preferably only in the morning.
Drink more water during the day and less at night (so you don't get up during the night to pee).
Eat real, nutritious foods- rich in micronutrients. Have your main meal during the day and have a smaller dinner at night, preferably earlier in the evening (at least 3 hours before bed), to digest properly.
This is not always achievable but if you start with 1-2 practices and build on it, then it will help. Relaxation before bed is essential to maintain an evening ritual to "switch off". This can include:
Closing all electronics 60-90 minutes before bed. (Yes, this means scrolling social media).
Taking a hot shower or bath
Reading a book
Talking to a loved one (kids or spouse)
A guided "bedtime" meditation
Journaling- anything stressful write it down and also a gratitude journal is a nice practice to do before bed.
Taking a magnesium supplement
Creating a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom- black out blinds, taking out unnecessary electronics (phone, TV, tablet), having a cooler room temperature, dimming the light or changing the bulb to a warmer glow, clean sheets and a supportive pillow can assist also.
If you are struggling at night and you know it affects your life and your ability to function properly the following day, flex your discipline muscle and just get to bed!! If you are currently going to bed at 11:30pm then claim more bedtime back by setting a nightly alarm to start your preparation for sleep and cutting it back by 15 mins every few days. Essential enzymatic repair happens more between the hours of 10pm and 2am, so being in bed by 10pm is ideal.
Another option is to be more organised, get more done during the day and on weekends. Have a daily plan and execute to create freedom at night.
Boring maybe, but it works....it is called being an adult and looking after your health and wellbeing.
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