What You Need To Know About Diet And Sleep Hygiene?

Elvis Elvis

Taken together, your diet and sleep patterns exert an enormous effect on your health. And there is evidence to show that your eating and sleeping habits are intimately connected with each other.

People who suffer from insomnia have extra cause to be careful about their diet, because bad sleeping and eating habits have a way of reinforcing one another.

Royal Route to Obesity

Sleep experts have called sleep deprivation “the royal route to obesity”. That is because a lack of sleep lowers levels of leptin in our systems. Leptin is a hormone that regulates the appetite.

So if you’ve ever noticed yourself eating more when you’ve slept badly, that’s part of the reason. The link between insomnia and weight gain is well established.

People who are sleep-deprived also metabolize food less efficiently. One study found that when otherwise healthy young adults had their sleep restricted to four hours a night, their blood sugar and insulin levels began to resemble those of diabetics. People who are overweight tend to suffer from sleep problems — it is well known, for instance, that sleep apnea is associated with obesity.

So, if you are going through a sleepless patch, please watch what you eat. Not only may your diet exacerbate your insomnia, but your insomnia may be causing the negative health effects of a poor diet to be magnified.

What You Need To Know About Diet And Sleep Hygiene?

Pack Your Lunch

When my insomnia was at its worst, I put on 20 pounds in the course of a year and a half.

Partly, this was because the cafeteria at my workplace sold mostly fried chicken, hamburgers, and pizza. The only healthy choice offered was cold salad displayed unappetizingly in the refrigerator. In my tired state, the salad never won out. I wanted something warm and comforting. I needed energy, and fried chicken was it.

I never got it together to pack a lunch but, looking back, that’s what I needed to do.

In subsequent jobs, I’ve always made a big pot of vegetable soup every weekend and brought a portion in one Mason jar at a time.

It may seem like a lot of work, but your health depends on it.

Cut the Cola and the Alcohol

Needless to say, insomniacs should cut their caffeine intake. But this is hard to do if you think drinking coffee is the only thing keeping you going.

Consider this, then. It takes six hours for your body to eliminate half of the caffeine you’ve taken.

So, while it may not seem like it to you, by mid-afternoon you likely still have half of your morning joe percolating through your system.

Nor is coffee the only caffeinated beverage out there. Many soft drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine.

An 8-oz. swig of Mountain Dew, for instance, will put 37 mg of caffeine in your system. (For comparison, a 12-oz.coffee contains 375 mg).

Tea, chocolate, and even certain medications all contain caffeine to keep you awake at night.

To ensure a good night’s sleep, stop drinking caffeinated beverages after lunchtime. Switch to orange juice or peppermint tea, instead. Look for the “caffeine-free” label on the box of teabags. Green tea is also a great choice. It contains antioxidants that help to prevent cancer and heart disease. Studies also show that it promotes healthy gums.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but alcohol isn’t recommended for insomniacs either. It may make you drowsy, but sleep experts have found that alcohol shortens the duration of sleep. Smoking and substance abuse are also not recommended.

By All Means Indulge

As I write above, I know what it’s like to be too tired to resist fried food. Insomniacs need more comforting than most, and food is a big source of the warm fuzzies.

So by all means indulge, but make wise choices as you do so. Always eat breakfast, but make it heart-healthy — steel-cut oats cooked with flax seed and raisins and topped with a tablespoon of maple syrup is my favorite.

If you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, add some cinnamon to your oatmeal. Cinnamon has been found to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels. If you’re craving meat, make it lean, white meat. Choose fish — especially salmon and trout — as often as you can (making sure that the fish is ethically harvested).

Don’t give in to the deep-fry, but stir-frying with vegetables in olive or sunflower oil makes a little meat go a long way. Steam or bake your fish, then top it with spicy and delicious vegetables. Enjoy mushrooms, bell peppers, and broccoli.

Make your food taste wonderful by using lots of onions and garlic — known for their cholesterol-reducing properties. Choose carbs that have a low glycemic index — whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, and sweet instead of regular potatoes. If you need a snack, eat a handful of roasted almonds or walnuts instead of that packet of chips.

For dessert, try a square or two of dark chocolate (though beware of the caffeine!) or mix blueberries with low-fat yogurt and maple syrup.

In the evenings, make sure you’ve finished eating at least three hours before you go to bed. This way, you’ll put on less weight.

Love Yourself With A Good Diet

As much as I’ve been a foodie all my life, I found it especially hard to eat well when I lived alone.  It seemed a lot of bother to fix a fancy meal just for myself. But after a few years, I suddenly had a realization — I was worth the effort!

So especially if your insomnia is a symptom of loneliness, try extra hard with your diet.

Make cooking your hobby. Take pleasure in the process of putting a meal together.

Cook well and eat well as an expression of love for yourself.

Eat slowly and mindfully. You will consume less this way and digest your food more effectively.

Don’t eat standing up and wandering around the kitchen like I used to — sit down, put some nice music on, and enjoy the meal you’ve prepared.

Break That Vicious Cycle

Because the alternative is to spiral downward in a vicious cycle — you eat more and worse because you’re tired, and getting fat causes you to feel depressed and lose even more sleep.

So watch your diet. Enjoy your food but eat wisely — you’ll sleep the better for it.