Did you know that your sleep is what you eat, and what you eat is your sleep? That may sound confusing, but it's important to understand that there is a link between diet and sleep. This relationship is reciprocal and decisions made about each one can impact the other for better, or for worse. Keep reading to see how this relationship works and how you can make positive changes to improve both!
Sleep, fat and body muscle interaction
When you don't get enough sleep, you actually can lower your body's muscle mass. Muscles are restored during deep sleep and your fat is burned while you are in this fasting stage in order to provide energy for the muscle restoration process. If you don't get enough sleep, then your body doesn't go into this process, and you don't build enough muscle, while your fat isn't burned at the same time.
How sleep impacts your diet
Hormones also play a role in your diet when you don't get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation causes increased levels of ghrelin which is the hunger promoting hormone. This means that when you don't get enough sleep, your body constantly thinks it's hungry. Sleep deprived people tend to consume more calories than those who have had adequate sleep.
However, when you have had enough sleep, the the hormone leptin is in abundance. Leptin is the satiety hormone that tells your body when it's full. Therefore, those who are not sleep deprived often feel more full, and therefore consume less calories.
Also when you're tired, you have a higher propensity to choose high sugar, processed foods. The reward center of your brain is more active with less sleep which tells your body that you want quick foods with high sugar content. Therefore, you're more likely to make poorer diet choices when you're sleep deprived.
How diet impacts your sleep
The relationship between diet and sleep goes the other way as well meaning that your diet impacts your sleep. For example, fiber content can help improve sleep. Eating less fiber and instead, consuming more sugar and saturated fat can lead to more hours of lighter sleep - AKA poorer sleep quality. Increased sugar meant increased arousals from sleep while increased fiber, however, led to more hours of deep sleep.
Not all sugar negatively impacts your sleep, however. Natural sugar, the kind found in fruits and vegetables is better for your sleep than added sugar. Natural sugars promote increased quality of sleep. Added sugar, the kind found in crackers, baked goods, etc. are prone to deteriorate your sleep.
Protein is also another important component of diet for good sleep. Protein can help you stay fuller and more satisfied for longer. It also helps with better appetite control. Those who consume lean meats for dinner, like fish, chicken, nuts and seeds, have longer and better sleep than those that have a high carb diet.
There are several options of diets you can choose from to try and increase your odds of having good sleep. The mediterranean diet is a great choice as it includes all the food groups that promote good sleep. Getting good sleep is also important for making good food choices. Don't forget that too are interlinked as you move forward with your health choices.