According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep. Without adequate sleep, it's difficult to reach your healthiest self. Inadequate sleep can lead to sugar cravings, over eating, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. There are several things than can impact sleep but an often overlooked area is how nutrition impacts sleep. Read below to more about healthy sleep solutions.
“Adequate sleep restores us physically, mentally, and emotionally.”- Today's Dietitian
You may be surprised to learn that sleep plays an important role in several areas of your health. Clients frequently report sugar cravings and low energy, wondering what they should eat to fix these issues. While food plays a significant role in energy and cravings, sleep also plays an important role but is often overlooked.
The reality is, for optimal health you must get optimal sleep. In addition to helping you feel more energetic and refreshed, this can also have a significant impact on several other areas of your health.
What is adequate sleep?
First, you may be wondering how much sleep is enough sleep. This can vary from person to person but According to the consensus statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults should be getting 7 or more hours of sleep (1). Even if you feel like you do just fine on 6 hours of sleep, it's likely that you have just adjusted to that amount of sleep but would benefit from hitting the 7 to 9 hour mark.
Although going through your day feeling on top of the world is an obvious plus of getting good sleep, there are more more long lasting benefits to good sleep.
Health risks associated with poor sleep (1)
- Weight gain
- Heart disease or stroke
- Increased risk of death
- Impaired immune function
- Increased pain
- Impaired performance
- Increased errors
- Greater risk of accidents
Poor sleep and appetite
Do you ever feel like on you are more hungry on the days that you get very little sleep? There is an actual scientific reason for why this happens! Sleep deprivation can cause two hormones that regulate appetite to fall out of whack. This can result in an increased appetite and decreased feeling of fullness, ultimately resulting in you eating more calories.
You may also find that on the days that you are walking around like a zombie, you are craving more sweet and salty foods. This isn't just your imagination. There is a physiological process that happens when you don't get enough sleep that causes this to happen. Sweets are the quickest way that our body can get energy, so craving sweets is your body's way of quickly finding energy to power through the day. Because the energy from sweets is quick, it doesn't last for long so the sugar cravings keep coming.
As somebody who has struggled with sleep myself, I understand that getting more sleep can be easier said than done. Follow the healthy sleep solutions below to work towards getting better sleep and improving your overall health today.
Healthy sleep solutions to get serious about improving your sleep routine:
- Create a sleep friendly environment in your bedroom
- Choose a comfortable, mattress, and pillows to make sure you can be comfortable
- Light disrupts sleep so make sure you are using curtains to block light
- The ideal sleep temperature is 65 degrees
- Light or diffuse calming scents to promote sleep
- Optimize your sleep schedule
- Set a fixed wake up and go to bed time
- Build sleep into your schedule
- Napping too long or too late in the day can disrupt your sleep schedule
- Bed time routine
- Wind down for at least 30 minutes
- Avoid bright lights
- Disconnect from devices
- Change your habits during the day
- Get outside for some sunshine to help regular your circadian rhythm
- Daily exercise promotes quality sleep
- Avoid caffeine later in the day