How Getting a Great Sleep Helps You Make Healthy Choices
When you’re tired, everything is more difficult, and that includes making good food choices. Sleep deprivation can interfere with your self control, appetite, metabolism, and cravings.
When you get enough sleep, it’s easier to make good nutrition choices. You have more self control, and sleep helps keep hunger hormones regulated. You’re less likely to crave foods that may not be a good nutrition choice.
Sleep Deprivation and Hormones
Insufficient sleep can interfere with the regulation of hormones that affect your metabolism and appetite. These hormones include ghrelin, leptin, cortisol, and insulin.
When you’re sleep deprived, your ghrelin production increases, which tells your brain your hungry, even if that isn’t necessarily the case. At the same time, your leptin production decreases. This hormone tells your brain that it’s full. A lack of sleep can artificially increase your appetite, as these hormones signal to your brain that you’re hungry and not full.
Sleep deprivation can also interfere with proper metabolism of carbohydrates, which can lead to increased production of cortisol, a stress hormone, and insulin. When your body grows resistance to insulin, it becomes more difficult to process fat and sugars and your body stores more of it as fat, which can lead to weight gain.
Sleep Deprivation and Self Control
When you’re sleep deprived, your self control suffers. It’s difficult to stick to a healthy diet, and you are more prone to seeking out junk food. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to consume more calories and more carbohydrates overall while drinking less water.
Your cravings may change when you’re sleep deprived, causing you to crave foods that are rich in fat or carbohydrates. You may make poor snack choices at night and eat bigger portions.
Sleep deprivation increases fatigue. That makes it more difficult for you to say no to poor food choices, and you have less energy to live a healthy lifestyle including exercise.
Tips for Improving Sleep
With more restful sleep, you’re in a better position to make good food choices. Use these tips to improve your sleep at night.
Create a healthy sleep environment. Where you sleep is almost as important as how much you sleep. A healthy sleep environment can help you relax and get the rest you need, while an unhealthy one can leave you feeling anxious and restless at night. Your bedroom should be calm, dark, cool, comfortable, and quiet. Especially important is a mattress that appropriately meets your needs and offers support and pain relief.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Good sleep habits can help improve the quality of your sleep. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time each day. Create a consistent bedtime routine, so you’re signaling to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep each night when you go through your same actions before bed, such as brushing your teeth and reading a book.
Consider how food may affect your sleep quality. Consuming caffeine, chocolate, sugar, or alcohol can interfere with your ability to sleep well. Heavy meals just before bed can make it difficult for you to sleep as your body digests your food. It’s best to avoid these foods in the hours before bed.
Selina Hall is an expert on sleep health and wellness for BestMattressReviews.com. She believes that sleep is one of the most important pillars of health. Selina lives in Portland, Oregon. She sleeps best under a handmade quilt passed down from her great-grandmother.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist - CDN, RDN
My name is Valerie Polley. I am a Indianapolis-based registered dietitian and owner of Blue Tree Nutrition. I consult with clients both local and far away.
I have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Purdue University and I have been practicing for 20 years.
I thoroughly enjoy helping clients through their gut health journey. I see a range of GI issues including, but not limited to celiac disease, IBS and SIBO. I also specialize in the FODMAP elimination diet.
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