Sleep affects everything, including your weight. We have previously discussed the importance of sleep to a healthy mind and body. Athletes tout the benefits of sleep to performance and sleep experts advise insufficient quality sleep can negatively affect memory, attentiveness, and performance. It is time to recognize the extent to which insufficient or poor sleep can affect your weight.
Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain
Experts recommend seven hours of sleep a night for adults. Dr. Michael J. Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” tells us that even a moderate amount of sleep deprivation makes you more likely to eat the next day. Sleep deprivation creates more intense cravings for fat and sugar-laden foods. A study from the University of Colorado, found “that one week of sleeping about 5 hours a night led participants to gain an average of 2 pounds.” Shape Magazine recognized the connection between sleep and weight gain in research it cited finding “that women who are sleep-deprived are a third more likely to gain 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who receive just seven hours of sleep per night.” Sleep deprivation decreases the body’s ability to use insulin properly, decreases the body’s ability to make muscle, and negatively affects the hormones that control hunger.
Foods to Improve Your Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding caffeine and heavy, heartburn-inducing foods at night. Beyond that, the NSF has identified certain foods and beverages that may help sleep including nuts, lean protein, warm milk, and certain fruits. Healthline identifies foods with health benefits that may increase or improve sleep. The nine best foods to eat before bed, which include passionflower and chamomile tea, almonds, walnuts, kiwi, tart cherry juice, fatty fish, white rice, and turkey. Although there are no definitive studies at this point, a number of these foods are high in magnesium, which may promote sleep due to its ability to reduce inflammation. Others, such as nuts, are a source of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. The protein and tryptophan in turkey may induce tiredness. Antioxidants in the teas and fruit/juices may improve sleep quality. You will want to consider these for nighttime snacks if your goal is a more restful night’s sleep.
“To reap the benefits of sleep-enhancing foods, it may be best to consume them 2–3 hours before bed. This is because eating immediately before going to sleep may cause digestive issues, such as acid reflux.” Make these sleep-enhancing foods and beverages part of your nighttime routine and have a great night’s sleep!
Updated July 31, 2022