There is more than adequate data out there about the foods that you should eat to sleep fast and for long enough. But, do you also know that how you sleep will affect what you eat?
Everything from your sleep pattern to the sleeping environment and the number of hours in bed will influence what you eat. And so maintaining healthy sleep habits will improve not only your health but also your food choices.
So how does sleep affect what you eat?
#1. If You Sleep Less You Will Eat More
Different studies show that individuals that sleep for fewer hours every day will consume more calories than those that sleep for eight or nine hours. Eating more calories also means that the sleep-deprived individuals will gain more weight than those that get enough rest (1).
Although research is still not very conclusive on what leads people to eat more when they do not sleep enough. Some studies link it to the reduction in production of leptin.
The body reacts to the decrease in leptin production by overproducing ghrelin which is a hormone that promotes the feeling of hunger and makes sleep-deprived people want to keep eating.
#2. Irregular Sleep Pattern Affect Eating Habits
Interfering with the body’s internal sleep mechanism will also interfere with your feeding habits by changing the time of the day when you will feel hungry. Also, irregular sleep patterns will affect how hungry you will be at different times of the day.
Late sleepers will tend to miss breakfast and have their first meal of the day at midday. And the chances are that most will consume more calories since they will be feeling hungrier than those that wake up early and take breakfast at the right time.
Also, the large meals during the day mean that you will also end up eating dinner late in the night which will make it hard for you to sleep. And this leads to a vicious cycle of sleeping late and also the development of poor eating habits.
#3. You Will Miss Out On Vital Nutrients
Just because you will eat a lot of food when you are sleep-deprived, it does not mean that your body will be getting all the nutrients that it requires. A majority of people with poor sleep habits will tend to crave sugary and fatty foods which will only make them gain weight without providing the vital nourishment.
Sleep-deprived individuals will eat fewer fruits and vegetables than those who sleep enough and have well-planned meal plans. The deficiencies in minerals and vitamins will affect the normal body functions and will always come with various unwanted symptoms.
#4. Daytime Naps Can Make You Eat Unhealthy Snacks
If you do not sleep enough at night, the chances are that you will try to compensate with some long daytime naps. While daytime naps are not always wrong, making them longer than 30 minutes is never a good idea.
Apart from waking up feeling groggy, you will also wake up hungry, and you will want to eat something sugary or fatty to boost your moods and energy levels so that you can get back to work.
The fatty and sugary foods mean that those are some extra and unhealthy calories that you will be consuming. And to make things even worse for you, the nap will interfere with your ability to get sleep at night when you need it most. As you watch a movie or read something late at night to try and get some shut-eye, it is very likely that you will want to snack on something sweet.
#5. Sleeping Too Much Also Affects Food Choice
A cup of herb tea for sleeping, working out and taking a hot bath before bed will help you get the shut-eye that you need but sleeping a lot is also not good. As you relax your body will still be digesting and using up food and so the longer you sleep, the hungrier you will be when you wake up.
Hunger leads to poor food choices because you will want something that will fill up your stomach fast and give you a quick energy boost. And for this most individuals will always turn to unhealthy fatty and sugary foods.
Which foods hinder your ability to sleep?
Simple Carbohydrates: Chocolate, spicy foods, High-Sugar Cereals, High-Protein or High-Fat Dinner, pasta and chips at dinner could hinder your sleep at night. Because these foods will spike your blood sugar, which will affect your sleep.
Caffeine: Research shows that “Caffeine can stimulate the central nervous system several hours after consuming it.”
Alcohol: According to nutritionist Mitzi Dulan, RD, “Drinking alcohol before bed can make you more likely to wake up throughout the night and diminishes the quality of sleep. ” So avoid alcohol if you are looking for a good sleep at night.
As you try to figure out the right foods to eat for better sleep, it is also important to understand that how you sleep will also affect what you eat.
If you do not sleep enough, you will eat more food, and excessive daytime napping will also make you consume a lot of junk food. And so the best thing is always to maintain a regular sleep schedule and also create and follow a healthy diet plan.