For most people, diet and exercise are at the top of the list when it comes to making smart health choices. You may take sleep for granted, but it's more important than you might think to helping you make good choices and maintain your overall health. Getting enough sleep can support a healthy diet and exercise regimen, while sleep deprivation can make it difficult to stay on track.
The Science of Sleep and Satisfaction
When you're sleep deprived, you're running on empty. Your body needs energy to function, and if you're not getting it from sleep, that means you'll look for energy from other sources, specifically food.
If your body is desperate for energy, you're going to seek foods that offer fast energy, but not necessarily those that offer lasting energy and health. Typically, you'll seek out carbs and sugar, as these offer a quick burst of energy. But that energy quickly wears off, and it can leave you feeling more tired than before.
When you're sleep deprived, your body produces more ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you when it's time to eat more food. At the same time, it reduces production of leptin, the satiety hormone that tells you when you're full and it's time to stop eating.
You can see where this is going: when you don't get enough sleep, your body has trouble understanding when it's time to stop eating, and you seek out more food whether you truly need it or not.
As a result, you're more likely to eat high carb snacks, consume more calories, and drink less water. You crave more fat, and snack later at night. Of course, if you're already tired, you're far less likely to maintain a regular exercise routine, which compounds the problem.
How You Can Sleep Better and Eat Well?
Getting a good night's sleep is restorative, and it gives you the energy and willpower you need to make good food choices and maintain overall good health. Use these tips to support a healthy lifestyle with good sleep:
- Make sleep a priority. Even if you're exceptionally busy, sleep isn't something you can skimp on regularly and expect to stay healthy. Consider it your most important appointment every day, giving yourself enough time to sleep seven to nine hours each night and feel restored every day.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Make every minute you spend in bed count with higher quality sleep. You can practice good sleep hygiene with a healthy sleep environment that's dark, cool, quiet, and comfortable for your needs. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and late night exercise or screen time. Maintain a regular sleep routine and schedule, so it's easier for you to settle down every night.
- Maintain a health diary. Use a smartphone app or traditional pen and paper to keep track of your sleep, food, and overall health choices. You should record how much sleep you get each night, what you eat each day, exercise, and your weight. Look for patterns, such as binging on junk food when you've skipped getting enough sleep or exercise. Finding these patterns can help you avoid pitfalls in the future.
Basically, sleep is the new black and you need to make it a priority.
What can you start doing TONIGHT to make sleep a priority for your health?