Have you ever considered that the amount of sleep you get can affect your health and your weight?
How important is getting enough sleep for reaching your goals? Once I implemented this simple strategy in my own life, it was a game changer!
Let’s face it when we’re tired we tend to make fewer healthy choices throughout the day, and we reach for the quick-fix energy boost we need, often in the form of sugar-filled options and processed snacks. When we’re tired, we also tend to skip the workout we had planned for the day.
For many people, this is an ongoing cycle that’s tough to break.
Adequate sleep sets the stage for everything else.
“When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite. Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.
Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate the appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs” – WebMD
Sleep can also affect your immune function, the aging process, memory, learning, and metabolism. Yes, adequate sleep is a big deal!
To get more sleep, set a goal of what time you need to be in bed each night to get the 7-9 hours you need. Try it this week and see if you notice a difference with your energy level and your eating habits.
I’m committing to getting ___7____ hours of sleep each night this week.
8 Foods that Promote Sleep
Which foods will help you sleep a little better at night? Sometimes, we just cannot resist a snack at bedtime. Choosing the right foods that will enable you to relax and not keep you up at night is not rocket science. Knowing which foods or beverages stimulate the mind vs. calming the mind is straight-forward. So, get your grocery app ready and prepare to stock the pantry.
Want to go herbal? Chamomile is an herbal cure that has been around for centuries as a treatment for insomnia. Studies show that chamomile acts a tranquilizer in mice. It has the power to reduce anxiety in some individuals thanks to its calming effects.
Don’t ditch your carbs just yet. Studies show that eating jasmine rice four hours before bedtime is an excellent way to induce sleep faster than other rice products according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (University of Sydney).
You probably know the old cliché that a warm glass of milk can do the body good? According to WebMD, dairy products help the brain to produce sleep-triggering melatonin thanks in part to the levels of tryptophan that is available in this food group. L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is available through diet.
The body uses tryptophan to create niacin which is responsible for the production of serotonin in our body. Serotonin is the chemical that gives us a sense of relaxation. Also, serotonin assists in the creation of melatonin which regulates our sleep and wake cycles.
Salad Dinners as a Sedative?
Keeping it healthy during dinner could have positive effects on your sleep experience. Salad dinners rich in the ingredient lettuce could be your saving grace for a good night’s rest. Lettuce is abundant in the chemical lactucarium which contains analgesic and sedative properties.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 like tuna, salmon, or even halibut can assist your body in increasing its production of melatonin and serotonin. These two chemicals together enable your body to achieve a resting state of high-quality sleep.
Want to boost melatonin levels in your body naturally? Add cherries to your grocery basket next time you visit your supermarket. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, Louisiana State University researchers found Montmorency tart cherry juice when drank twice a day for two weeks improved the overall sleep time in older adults suffering from insomnia by 90 minutes.
Aside from the natural boost in melatonin, you may be wondering what else is the driver of this phenomenon? Thanks to the ruby red pigments in Montmorency tart cherry juice (proanthocyanidins), the availability of tryptophan increases which serves also to improve serotonin levels which contribute to sleep. This process makes for the perfect formula in getting a good night’s rest.
Bananas are a great addition to any breakfast meal, but you might consider adding this fruit to your diet just for its effects on your sleep experience. Bananas contain magnesium and potassium which are great minerals for muscle relaxation.
Why is this quality important? For those who experience restless leg syndrome or muscle cramps, these two minerals can be your best friend in battling these two conditions that might keep you awake at night.
Add a handful of almonds to your snacks during the day. These nuts are another source of magnesium, and they also contain calcium. Not a fan of almonds? Swap them out for almond-butter. You can spread it over a slice of toast. In addition to magnesium and calcium, almonds contain the necessary sleep-inducing amino acids and vitamins which help to trigger the release of melatonin.
These foods can help you improve your sleep experience. If you are in the midst of switching your diet to enhance your sleep experience, take slow steps. Take the time to understand what works well for your palate and what produces the chemical and hormonal changes necessary for quality sleep. Your experience may differ from that of another person.
Signs of Sleep Deprivation
Even if you think you’re getting enough sleep, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation. The symptoms of sleep deprivation are not necessarily as clear-cut as you might think; in other words, it’s not just feeling sleepy all the time that is your cue that you’re short on sleep. So how do you know? Here are some tips.
Everyone has trouble sleeping now and then. We all experience the occasional sleepless night and groggy morning. We may even go through a period when we experience these things, such as during life transitions and stresses. But when sleep deprivation may be a problem is when it is a regular occurrence and is unrelated to circumstances.
Experts point out “sleep debt” as a way in which sleep deprivation can enter your life without you necessarily realizing it. Sleep debt is accumulated gradually and is said to result from an hour or more of missed sleep every night for several nights. Sleep debt can get so bad that several nights of regular sleep are required to improve normal functioning.
Lack of sleep can make people very irritable, sources say. Are you snappish and impatient? Do you find yourself having little tolerance for your own mistakes and those of others? It may be a lack of sleep that’s the culprit.
Increased Appetite and/or Weight Gain
Did you know that a lack of sleep may increase your appetite and lead to weight gain? Perhaps the body’s need for energy when it’s sleep-deprived is what leads to a craving for sweets, carbohydrates, or just food in general. Increased appetite may also be the result of hormones that kick in when the body is deprived of sleep.
Even without a marked increase in appetite, research has shown that sleep deprivation can result in weight gain. This also may be due to hormonal imbalances caused by too little sleep.
If you find yourself making silly mistakes on a regular basis – dropping things, forgetting dates on the calendar, messing up your schedule, and so forth – it may be your sleepy brain. Studies show that those who don’t get enough sleep have a hard time performing normal tasks that are no problem when they are getting enough sleep.
As with other mental disorders, sleep deprivation may not be a cause of depression, but rather a symptom. However, some sources do point out that depression can result from a lack of sleep. If you are feeling depressed and are having a hard time determining why you might take a look at your sleep habits.
Why Our Mind And Body Need Rest
Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue
With our complex lives in the 21st century, more and more people are suffering from stress-related conditions. The negative impact of stress can affect many areas of health. One area in particular that can be adversely affected is the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and produce the hormones that are needed for the body to function properly. Stress adversely affects these glands because, when the body is under severe stress the glands start producing more hormones to help the body cope (this is the classic ‘fight or flight’ response). The main hormone is cortisol, which regulates metabolism and is a response to stress.
Of course, in some circumstances a stress response is needed, however, when stress is experienced over a long period of time, these glands weaken and this negatively affects the body and results in adrenal fatigue. So, what are these symptoms?
1. Excessive, unexplained tiredness. Adrenal fatigue makes a person very tired. This is because under stress the hormone levels are elevated, thus making it harder to sleep. Over time, the body’s cortisol levels are affected and this leads to the body being in an almost permanent state of alertness. All of this can affect the ability of a person to fall asleep or get a good night’s sleep. It could be that a person thinks he is getting enough sleep (the recommended 8 to 10 hours) but still wakes up feeling tired and fatigued.
2. Cravings for salty or sugary foods. One way that adrenal fatigue affects the body is to lower the blood sugar level. When this happens cravings for energy foods increase and therefore a sufferer will eat more sugary foods. Foods high in sugar are also comfort foods and stress can cause a person to increase the intake of sugar-high foods. Adrenal fatigue can also result in cravings for salty foods. This is because the adrenal glands affect how the kidneys regulate mineral fluctuations. When we suffer from fatigue, the body releases more minerals in the urine. This, in turn, can increase the desire for salty snacks.
3. Heightened energy in the evenings. An adrenal fatigue sufferer could find that he/she is tired all day but then in the late evening experience a surge of energy. Usually, cortisol reaches a peak in the late morning and then reduces during the day.
4. Difficulty in handling stress. The normal body’s response to stress is to release specific hormones so that stress can be handled effectively. The three specific hormones are cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and knowing how these affect the body helps us understand the relationship to stress.
a. Cortisol. Gives the body extra energy to cope with the stress, it increases memory function and lowers sensitivity to pain. However, the body needs a rest period after cortisol has been released in a stress-related situation. If a person is suffering, from adrenal fatigue rarely gets to have the ‘rest period’, over time less and less cortisol is produced.
b. Adrenaline. Probably the most well-known stress response hormone. This gives us the initial burst of energy needed to respond to stress. Once again, adrenal fatigue will affect the amount of this hormone and therefore the response to stress is reduced.
c. Norepinephrine. This hormone helps the brain to focus on the stress. Without this active hormone, the response to stress could be described as lethargic.
5. More infections. Cortisol helps to regulate the immune system in the body and cortisol works as an anti-inflammatory. Too much cortisol over an extended period of time hinders the response of the immune system and this results in having more infections. On the other hand, if the adrenal glands are so weakened that they produce too little cortisol then the body’s response is to overreact to infections resulting in certain autoimmune disorders.