If you’ve ever had trouble getting to sleep, it’s worth looking at what you eat and drink. Because our diet has a big effect on the quality of our snoozes. But did you know it also works the other way round? Because yep, a good night’s kip can also help you eat better too – handy when you’re trying to shift a few pounds. Sleep, we’re LOVING your work.
Eat your way to better sleep...
Eating well gives your body the best chance of good sleep, by letting it absorb the nutrients it needs. If you want to get science-y about it, those nutrients help your brain produce the neurotransmitters that send the ‘sleeeeeeep’ message – as well as building up slumber-promoting amino acids.
Phew. We need a bit of a snooze after that. Here are some handy tips:
Cut the evening cuppas
Naughty (but nice) caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for up to 6 hours, so even if you have a late-afternoon cuppa, chances are it’ll still be blocking the sleep chemicals in your brain at bedtime (sounds sinister, but that’s what caffeine does). So if you’re having trouble sleeping, try not to have any tea or coffee (or chocolate or fizzy drinks for that matter) after a certain time. If you’re craving that hot drink, try a soothing herbal tea to help you wind down.
Say booooooo to booze
Don’t shoot the messenger here, but although alcohol might send you off into a deep snooze, it also messes with your sleep rhythms. Good sleep’s all about balance, so if you plunge into serious slumber right away, your body will put you into a lighter sleep stage for longer – so your kip quality is worse.
Balance your sugar and carbs
Ever feel like you’re going from sugar high to carb crash to caffeine emergency? What you need is balance. Too much sugar gives you a rush of energy, and too much carbohydrate can make you feel sleepy (but can also increase the amount you wake up at night, so still not a good thing) – so try to keep some balance. Snacks like nuts, veg or protein bars will keep your energy levels up when you need a boost.
Don’t eat too late
If you eat late at night, your body will still be busy digesting when you go to bed. So try and give it enough time to do its thing, so you can get nice restful zzz’s. Any changes to your eating patterns can alter your body clock – so it’s good to keep a bit of a routine.
Eat these before bed
Some foods are kinda sleep superheroes, so try nibbling some of these before turning in at night. Tart cherries, walnuts and almonds contain the delicious sleep hormone melatonin, while kiwi fruit is naturally rich in serotonin, which is key to good rest. Bananas are helpful too, as their vitamin D is known to help promote quality sleep.
… and sleep your way to better eating
There’s tonnes of evidence that good quality sleep (and enough of it) is one of the best things you can do for your health. But did you know it could also help you lose weight too?
Our lovely friends over at Weight Watchers gave us a few heads-ups about the connections between poor sleep and putting on the pounds…
A gremlin (sorry, ghrelin) in the works
Lack of sleep can lead your body to produce more ghrelin (the appetite hormone), which could make you snack more. So more zzz’s, less mmmm’s...
Your metabolism slooooows
Poor sleep can also impact your metabolism, making it work less effectively. So that’s less fat being converted to energy.
And those cravings...
Ever notice how you crave comfort food when you’re tired? Sugary, fatty, starchy, carby foods are suddenly top of your list if your sleep’s suffering.
So it’s all a circle. Eat well to sleep well. And when you sleep well, your body is primed to choose better, healthier foods. Isn’t the body brilliant when it all works?