Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sleep Right to Eat Right

March is just about over, which means National Nutrition Month is also coming to a close :(

So much thought is put into exercise and eating 'right' in regards to health, wellness, weight management and sports performance, but what about the other daily lifestyle factors that can affect our appetite, motivation, food choices and recovery? One area that's often overlooked is the importance of sleep in eating right and athletic performance. In terms of general wellness and long term disease prevention, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, increased BMI, and is known to have a direct affect on your daily food choices, whether YOU realize it or not.

Whether or not we get adequate sleep affects our hormones, and those hormones can affect our body's cravings for certain foods. Additionally, individuals who are sleep deprived are more likely to reach for food out of comfort instead of nutrition, or overdose in potentially calorie-laden caffeinated beverages. Inadequate sleep alters levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones involved in the regulation of appetite and body fat. Sleep deprivation can also increase levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that will leave you scavenging for sugary and high-fat foods.

Just as sleep can affect what you eat, what you eat can affect your ability to sleep! Choosing the right foods, especially in the late afternoon and evening, can make a difference in your ability to get an restful night of zzzz's.

Foodie tips for better sleep:
  1. Limit caffeine in the afternoon. Everyone is different in how much/how late they can handle caffeine. Know what works for you and stick to attaining your caffeinated buzz earlier in the day.
  2. Avoid eating a large meal 3-4 hrs before lying down, especially spicy, acidic foods or greasy fried foods. Eating these foods then lying horizontally increases risk of heartburn and acid reflux, which can prevent you from sleeping restfully.
  3. Hydrate, but not too much! Hydrate well early in the day and taper off towards the evening. Nothing disturbs sleep more than having to get up every other hour to pee :)
  4. Consume foods rich in B6 and melatonin. Vitamin B6 is needed to make melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone. Foods rich in B6/Melatonin include salmon, bananas, fortified cereals and oatmeal, chickpeas and walnuts! Tart cherry juice is also rich in melatonin, so drink up and reap some recovery benefits too!
  5. Don't forget omega-3's! Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon and walnuts, chia and flaxseeds, will promote a better mood, less stress and prevent depression: all which can lead to a more restful night of sleep.
  6. Unwind with a cup of tea: choose lavender or chamomile to ease anxiety and prevent insomnia.
  7. Treat yourself to a snack: Especially as an athlete, having a small, protein rich snack before bed can help you to meet daily caloric needs + keep your tummy happy overnight + provides important fuel to muscles to aid in the rebuilding and recovery process (much of which happens while we sleep, another great motivator to get more zzz's!)

Adequate rest and regular, consistent sleep patterns are both essential pieces of the puzzle when it comes to eating right (and optimizing recovery and athletic performance!) Adults are recommended to aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night... what's holding you back?

Some days I want to GO GO GO, but sleep and rest are important for balance! Today is suppose to be rainy, so after my workouts are done, I hope to catch some quality zzzz's on the couch... it's hard to beat a lazy afternoon weekend nap!

My favorite nappy buddy
Want more info? Here's a great article by Runner's World on 

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! Especially the bed time snack. I find that if I go to bed hungry, I will sleep poorly and wake up really early because I am just too hungry to stay asleep!


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