If you’re getting less than seven hours sleep a night, you’re not getting enough!
Adequate sleep for adults is around 7-9 hours. Too little can affect you in more ways than you think, from your body’s ability to repair to how hungry you feel.
Lack of sleep, especially the vital Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, reduces the body’s ability to build and repair muscle and this can mean you store more visceral fat around your middle. For example, if you only get 5.5 hours sleep a night you lose 55% less fat than those who are achieving 7-9 hours.
Did you know that your hormones are at play when you don’t get enough sleep? Without adequate sleep, your hunger hormone (ghrelin) increases and your fullness hormone (leptin) drops. People who don’t get enough sleep can eat up to 400 extra kilocalories (1672kilojoules) a day.
And just as sleep can affect what you eat, what you eat can affect how you sleep. Eating more fibre has been shown to keep a person in deeper sleep. On the other hand, too much saturated fat provides less slow-wave or deep sleep and a higher sugar intake can cause more sleep disruption, meaning less restorative sleep.
A diet high in vegetables (at least five servings a day), fruits (at least two servings), whole-grains (4-7 servings) as well as legumes, nuts, seeds, seafood, and low fat dairy – basically the Mediterranean Diet – has been associated with less insomnia and better sleep duration.
Stick to natural over added sugar – the natural sugars found in fruit and vegetables promote healthy sleep – and maximise the recovery element of sleep by including fruit like blueberries, which are high in anthocyanins, a natural pigment that enhances muscle recovery.
If you’re looking to improve your quality of sleep, try cutting down highly-processed carbs like noodles, added sugar drinks, confectionary, as well as spicy food (particularly problematic with regards to heartburn).
Caffeine. And we don’t just mean coffee. Within 6-8 hours of heading to bed, avoid other bedtime favourites like cocoa, tea and chocolate. Swap your usual bedtime beverage for something with a natural sleep promoter, tart cherry for example which is a natural source of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Try something like DRIFT, the latest wellness shot from SHOJO Tonics, specifically developed to promote sleep and recovery.
Sleep well 😴
The link between sleep and weight gain – Research shows poor sleep quality raises obesity and chronic disease risk. Kondracki N.L. Todays Dietitian. 2012; 14 (6):48
Paradoxical post-exercise responses of acylated ghrelin and leptin during a simulated night shift. Morris C.J et al. Chronobiol Int 2010; 27(3): 590-605
Nutrients, Oct 2019, 11, 2-19 Micronutrient Inadequacy in short sleep: Analysis of the NHANES 2005-2016, Ikonte C. J et al.
Sleep patterns, diet quality and energy balance. Physiology & Behaviour. 2014 July; 134:86-91
Sleep and caffeine. Sleep Education, US, 2013
Anthocyanins in Health and Disease. 2017 Wallace T.C & Giusti M.M. CRC Press
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