HOW SLEEP CAN TRANSFORM YOUR HEALTH
Most of us know that getting enough sleep is important for our general health & wellbeing, but your sleep (or lack thereof) directly impacts your health, stress levels and even your appetite and the food your body craves.
An increasing body of research highlight this connection as too little sleep is increasingly being linked with risk of weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI). Less sleep also tends to equal more cravings for sweets and high carbohydrate foods, such as chocolate, cakes, and bread1, and this primarily comes down to two hormones called leptin and ghrelin. These hormones are both involved in energy regulation, hunger and satiety signals and both are impacted by our sleeping patterns. When we get enough sleep, Leptin, also known as the satiety hormone, is balanced and increases the feeling of fullness by instructing the brain to feel satisfied and tell us to stop eating. When we don’t get enough sleep, on the other hand, Ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone, rises and counteracts the effects of leptin by increasing hunger signals that drives us to eat and snack more – and typically on addictive sweets and fast foods, which in turn increases the likelihood of overeating, unstable blood sugar levels and weight gain2,3. Research shows that just a single night of sleep deprivation can cause notable changes in these hormones3 – so making sleep a priority is a really key part of investing in your overall health and wellness.
A few tips to help your sleep…
- Skip the caffeine, especially late in the day since it has a stimulating effect, which can worsen sleeplessness and insomnia. Have a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile or mint, instead which are also great for your digestion.
- Avoid eating too much and too late. Having your dinner 4 hours before you go to bed. That way your body is not busy digesting food when it is supposed to wind down and do its “night job” of cleaning up and detoxing.
- Limit your sugar! Foods high in sugar usually causes a quick rush of energy and can lead to unbalanced blood sugar levels, which can disrupt the quality of your sleep.
- Limit blue light exposure especially during the end of the day, as blue light can impair the brain’s ability to slow down and instead keep it wired for longer. Another great way to manage blue light exposure if to set up your iphone so it automatically shifts to having warmer screen colours during the evening hours.
- Help your body relax by taking a hot bath before bed. Adding magnesium rich epsom salts will give you an extra relaxing boost and help soothe muscles after exercise as well.
- Minimise or avoid alcohol. Though it may make us feel sleepy quicker, alcohol actually compromises the quality of the sleep you’re getting.
- Beebe, D. W. et al. (2013). Dietary Intake Following Experimentally Restricted Sleep in Adolescents. Sleep. Jun 1; 36(6): 827–834.
- Taheri, S. et al. (2004) Short Sleep Duration Is Associated With Reduced Leptin Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased BMI. PLOS Medicine Dec;1 (3).
- Schmid, S. M. et al. (2008) A Single Night of Sleep Deprivation Increases Ghrelin Levels and Feelings Of Hunger in Normal-Weight Healthy Men. Journal of Sleep Research 17, 331-334.