Sleep is essential to maintaining your mental and physical health, and it has some surprising impacts on your eating choices as well. If you are struggling with:
- Controlling your weight;
- Managing cravings;
- Emotional or Stress Eating;
- Binge Eating;
- Night-time Eating (eating after dinner), or
- Afternoon Eating,
then these seven (7) connections between your sleep and eating patterns are important for you to know.
#1 – You’ll Eat More When You Sleep Less
Studies have found that when you sleep less than the recommended 8-9 hours a night, you will consume more calories over the course of your day. Scientists don’t know exactly why, but the evidence is clear that poor or inadequate slumber and excessive food consumption go hand in hand.
#2 – You’ll Get More Food Cravings If You Sleep Poorly
Being well-rested is imperative for impulse control. If you are running on less sleep than you need, it makes you more likely to indulge in food cravings, particularly for foods higher in fat and lower in protein. This can have a significant effect on Binge Eating, Stress Eating or Night-time Eating as you are more likely to consume more calories, overeat or binge, after a night of poor sleep.
#3 – Eating a Poor Diet Impacts Your Quality Of Sleep
Unfortunately, it seems that the link between food and sleep goes both ways. If you sleep poorly with less than 8 hours of sleep, you most likely have a lower variety and poorer nutritional quality of foods plus are more dehydrated, than those who sleep well. Interestingly, the analysis found that those who slept 5 hours or less actually consumed less overall carbohydrates. Therefore, if you want to sleep well and find a healthy weight, you need to find a healthy balance and variety of nutrients in your eating plan, and stay optimally hydrated. Without this, you will most likely perpetuate the vicious cycles you are trying to stop.
#4 – What You Drink Impacts How You Sleep
There are people out there that swear they can have coffee, energy drinks, or any other caffeine-laden beverage, and it does nothing to their quality of sleep, but this has been proven to be untrue. Admittedly, some people are not aware of the effects of caffeine on sleep. Research has found that there is an interruption to sleep quality and a delay in the body clock. The effects of caffeine have been found to delay the sleep cycle by between 40 minutes to 105 minutes. The delay then affects wake or arousal times.
#5 – Eating Late Impacts Your Sleep
If you’re eating late at night instead of being in bed, there is a pretty good chance you’re sleeping less. It turns out the link between late-night eating and poor sleep goes far deeper than this. A study by University of Arizona Health Sciences found that junk food cravings were twice as likely associated with night-time eating and snacking. The major predictor of this behaviour was poor sleep quality. The study also found that the pattern was significantly linked with Obesity, Diabetes and other health problems.
#6 – You Are More Susceptible to Mindless Eating While Sleep-Deprived
A study found a link between short sleep duration, Obesity and mindless eating and drinking behaviours. It was found that you may spend approximately 8.7 extra minutes each day eating mindlessly while doing other things. It was also found that you are likely to spend approximately 30 extra minutes per day drinking sweetened drinks (not water). This might not sound like much, but if you are consistently consuming calories mindlessly, that’s going to add up, particularly when you consider that this could be working in tandem with some of the issues we’ve already discussed.
#7 – Your Emotions Respond Negatively to a Lack of Sleep
After a bad night’s sleep, your body’s stress hormones are elevated, which means that you are likely to be more irritable and less able to concentrate. For those who tend to eat to deal with negative emotions, this can make you more susceptible and less able to say no to the cravings when they kick in.
How you talk to yourself when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep can make a real difference. Learn more about the impacts of your internal language and how to be more positive, when it counts.
5 Tips to Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
Here are five (5) simple tips to consider to help you improve your sleep. Remember that sleep and eating patterns are linked. Once your sleep improves, you will create a positive effect on your cravings, all of your eating behaviours and weight.
Tip #1 – Sleep Environment
Getting your environment conducive to sleep is so important to have both good quality and quantity. Everyone is different! If you and your partner are keeping each other up at night, you might need to think about creating your own spaces for sleep. Your relationship and health will positively benefit from both of you getting a really good night’s slumber. Some of the things to consider: noise, light, temperature, bedding weight, and smells.
Tip #2 – Regular Bedtime
Your mind and body need a schedule in order to activate your sleeping hormones at the right time. Being consistent with your bedtime means that you are allowing yourself the time your mind and body need to fall asleep.
Tip #3 – Bedtime Routine
To activate your sleep hormones, you need to prepare your mind and body to fall asleep. By having a routine, just like you had when you were a child or that you have for your children, it signals that this is the time of day that you are doing the activities that help get you ready to go to bed and have a restful sleep.
Creating new habits and routines can be difficult if you don’t prioritise them and yourself. Read more here.
Tip #4 – Decompress and Relax
Part of your bedtime routine needs to include some boundaries and deadlines for stimulating activities. Your mind and body cannot prepare for sleep if it is wound up, stressed, anxious, excited, stimulated and the likes. Therefore, you need to have a reasonable cut off time for doing, watching or reading anything that is going to overstimulate your brain and keep you up. A good starting point is at least one (1) hour before bed. Such things include social media, news, work, gaming, movies, TV show, and conversations etc. Find things that help you relax and get ready for a restorative night’s sleep.
Tip #5 – Regular Wake Time
Just as you have a regular bedtime, you also need to have a regular wake time. This helps you maintain consistency in your sleep cycles which has a positive effect on the rest of your routine and day, even when you don’t sleep that well.
Forming any new habit is difficult. The best way to form new habits is to know what you want for yourself and why. If you need help to form the habits you need to improve your sleep and eating patterns, we are here to help.