Sleep Quality & diet


By PW Nutritionist Aleena Khusro

Have you found yourself feeling lethargic and just ravenous on days when you haven't had a good night’s sleep? In your sleep deprived state do you find yourself reaching for that extra-large coffee with extra cream and extra sugar and then go onto gorge on every chocolate bar in sight? We’ve all been there!

The link between sleep and diet has been a hot topic in the nutrition world for a while now. Plenty of research out there shows a connection between the hours of sleep you get, your quality of sleep and eating habits. People getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night tend to a have higher caloric intake throughout the day and consume more sugar or caffeine than usual to get an energy boost. Poor sleep can result in consumption of an extra 300 calories in a day!

Unhealthy snacking

Sleep deprivation and disrupted sleep cycles may contribute to major metabolic disturbances and weight gain. Lack of sleep causes your body to go into ‘conservation’ mode which means a slowed down metabolism, and as a result you end up burning fewer calories during waking hours. You may also notice your appetite significantly increases when you are sleep deprived as you tend to produce more ghrelin – the hormone that tells you to eat more! Disrupted sleep patterns over a period of time can cause the amount of ghrelin you secrete to increase majorly, causing weight gain and even obesity in the long run.

To allow for all the muscles in your body to recover and rebuild, getting enough shut eye is crucial. When you are asleep, this allows time for all the body muscles to recover and rebuild. Statistically, well rested people are 20% better at performing physical tasks than those who lack rest!

Warming breakfast porridge

There are several ways you can adjust your dietary patterns and habits to ditch those insomniac tendencies. Here are some ideas to start…

- DO Eat breakfast like a king! Try to embrace this age old saying and eat a heavier breakfast made up of healthy grains, protein and fruit and have your lightest meal at night. Lighter evening meals means your body isn’t working so hard to digest food right before bed!
- DO Finish up your dinner by 8pm at the latest! This allows for plenty of time for your food to digest.
- DO Develop a normalised eating routine – try to eat at a consistent time every morning, afternoon and evening.
- DO Get in the B Vitamins! They are great for regulating the body’s ability to use tryptophan in producing more serotonin, which helps make our sleep hormone melatonin. You can find them in salmon, bananas, fortified cereals and even our Slender Blend!
- DO Make sure you have Zinc in your diet. This is an important micronutrient in preventing symptoms of insomnia. You can find this in our Protein World Multivitamins.

Nutrition to help you sleep

- DON’T Chug lots of water right before bed. This increases your frequency of going to the bathroom and disrupts your sleep. Try drinking water throughout the day and not chugging it all before sleeping.
- DON’T Drink coffee or caffeine laden drinks after 3pm – although you may not think the caffeine has hit you, caffeine has a half-life of about 4 hours, which means it can keep you alert for longer than you would imagine!
- DON’T Eat very spicy foods in the evening. Lying down after eating a mouth burning meal can result in heartburn and a restless night. Studies have found that eating spicy food before bed reduces overall amount of sleep you get and also raises core body temperature which leads to poor sleep quality.
- DON’T Drink alcohol if you are trying to get a restful night’s sleep! Alcohol disrupts sleep quality and the sleep cycle, meaning you are likely to be tossing and turning through the night.