When we think about our health and wellbeing, we are often quick to focus on diet, exercise and stress management, with sleep quality not even on our radar. But the time we spend sleeping every night, and the quality of that sleep, both have a significant impact on our mood, ability to concentrate, and our weight.
Lack of sleep not only makes us hungrier, but also influences the type of food we crave. Research suggests that insufficient sleep makes us reach for high energy-dense foods the following day. Making matters worse, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to impaired glucose tolerance due to changes in insulin sensitivity, putting tired individuals at increased risk of conditions such as diabetes.
Tips and Tricks for a good night’s sleep:
- Turn off all screens 1-2 hours prior to bed – the artificial light suppresses our production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle
- Keep your mobile phone out of arm’s reach to resist checking emails or scrolling through Facebook during the night
- Spritz some lavender scented room spray, or dab a little lavender essential oil on your wrists to help you relax
- Listen to soothing music and/or an audiobook while drifting off
- Maintain a dark and cool sleeping environment
- Try meditation before bed – give the Headspace app a go
- Don’t go to bed hungry, or you may wake with low blood sugar during the night
- Consume a source of tryptophan in the evenings, such as a glass of milk or an egg omelette. This amino acid is converted to our feel good hormone ‘serotonin’ in the brain, helping us feel relaxed and sleepy
- If you are caffeine sensitive, avoid tea, coffee and energy drinks later in the day, and brew a herbal tea instead.
I recently chatted to MyDeal about how a lack of sleep affects our health, in particular in regards to the hormonal changes that occur affecting our appetite. You can check it out here.