Sleep and nutrition are linked. When you don't sleep well, it has several disadvantages for your health. You are irritable, it is harder to concentrate and you gain weight. The latter is shown by a British study from 2016. But how come? BBC program maker Michael Mosley wondered that too and went to investigate.
His quest began when he wanted to find out why he was sleeping so badly. He tried all kinds of methods and recorded everything in his book “Fast Asleep”. In it, he concluded the following: sleep and diet influence each other.
The link between sleep and nutrition
For example, fewer cytokines are produced during sleep deprivation. These chemicals are very important for maintaining your immune system and usually protect you against harmful bacteria from outside. You may be more susceptible to disease.
In addition, the disturbing hormone balance causes a greater feeling of hunger. You feel it less quickly when you are full and you are more inclined to snack. However, there is one big problem: when you do this, you maintain your bad sleep rhythm.
The Effects of Eating Late
If you eat something late in the evening, your intestines remain active and your blood sugar level rises. This creates an imbalance in your body. Your brain has the idea that you are still active and makes less melatonin and therefore does not rest enough. So it's a vicious circle.
This is especially a big problem for people who work at night. They often eat a large meal during the night, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep during the day or to wake up earlier. Although you can run on less sleep for a few days at a young age, this quickly has greater consequences as you get older.
For example, it helps not to eat anything for at least three hours before going to bed and to eat as little as possible for 12 hours afterward. This reduces the period in which you eat so that you do not eat too much. Plus, this method helps you lose weight and may even lower your blood pressure, Mosley said.
Eating at fixed times ensures that your intestines relax and they can process the food present. Your blood sugar level remains stable and your brain can more easily produce melatonin to help you fall asleep.
Do you work at night? Then dietician Kelly Kaldenberg thinks that it is best not to eat too large portions. In addition, opt for more proteins instead of sugars. That works best for your body.
It is also important to listen carefully to your own body. For example, someone with a fast metabolism might eat a small snack later in the evening, while someone with a slow metabolism would be better off waiting until the next morning.