I have noticed a definite correlation between how much sleep I have and the food choices I make the next day – the less sleep I have the more comfort foods I require. So for me the key to a week of healthy eating is getting enough sleep.
Why does being tired make us eat unhealthy foods?
When we are tired we don’t feel as good as we should and the brain wants something that will make us feel perky again, so we reach for our favourite comfort foods. And because we are tired we tend to rely on caffeine and energy foods to keep us going.
There are also 4 hormones that play an important part in the way that we eat:
- Grehlin: Signals to the brain when it is time to start eating
- Leptin: Signals when it is time to stop eating.
- Cortisol: Signals to the body to conserve energy stores to fuel the waking hours
- Insulin: Is required by the body to turn food into energy
What happens to these hormones when we are sleep deprived?
Grehlin increases making us want to eat
Leptin decreases so that we dont know when to stop
Cortisol increases making us store energy as fat
Insulin becomes imbalanced so we are less able to process food and more likely to store it as fat
So its very clear why getting enough sleep is important in maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are my tips for getting a good nights sleep:
Never have a TV or a computer in the bedroom – bedrooms are for sleeping and sex that’s it! If you want to watch TV sit on the sofa like a grown up!
Magnesium baths (also known as Epsom Salts) – Magnesium has many functions and one of them is that it helps the body to relax and promotes better sleep. A really effective way to absorb magnesium is through the skin. Magnesium baths are therapeutic for tired muscles and make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
Relaxing aromatherapy oils – I have no idea if there is any science behind them but I like the smell and it makes me feel good! I prefer to have them in an oil burner in my bedroom but they can also be added to your bath water.
Natural dawn alarm clock – probably the best bit of kit I have ever bought myself! It sends you to sleep with a gradual dusk (light decreases over 30 mins) which helps to set your body clock and it wakes you up with a gradual dawn (light increases over 30 mins). The most gentle way to wake up ever. You can set up a back up buzzer in case you don’t wake up but that has only ever happened to me twice and I have had it for years! No stressful awakenings, guaranteed to wake up in a better mood!
Relaxation Apps – there are loads available, I use Pzizz. You can set how long it plays for and gentle sound and a relaxing voice help you to wind down and fall asleep. It also has a power nap function should you ever have a chance to have a sneaky mid day snooze!
Exercise – definitely helps me to fall asleep but not to soon before bed time as your endorphins will be flowing and you will be feeling energised.
Consistent sleep patterns – and you are probably not going to like this one but keeping a regular sleep pattern really helps to keep your body clock in check. That involves getting up the same time each day even on the weekends!
Everyone has different sleep requirements but we should aim for 7-9 hrs per night so that we feel awake and perky and more inclined to make healthy food choices and want to train the next day. Obviously there are always going to be exceptions, when we haven’t followed the rules. As long as these are fewer than the times when we have followed the rules then we are striving for a healthy lifestyle and that’s good! So be organised, set yourself a reasonable lights out time, turn everything off and sleep well!
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