2. The Connection Between Sleep Loss And Our Brains
So, what have the studies shown us? When you are totally deprived of sleep, your brain’s reward system is turned on when it comes to food. This information was only recently discovered by the hard-working and most likely sleep-deprived researchers!
They were initially unsure as to what the connection was between sleep loss that we encounter on a daily basis and the way our brain responds to food when it is placed in front of us or just sitting in the fridge.
There was a nine-day study period that was involved in this research about sleep deprivation. They were monitoring the effects of “built-up sleep debt.” Nevertheless, it’s not just intense sleep deprivation that has adverse effects.
With ideal sleep conditions, the researchers found out two important things. Even the smallest bit of sleep loss can cause your brain to be triggered by food desires. It then leads to an increase in the risk of obesity and even lifestyle diseases.
What lifestyle diseases does lack of sleep put you at risk for? It puts you at risk of metabolic disorder, which is actually the first step towards becoming a diabetic. Get that sleeping mask ready with your earplugs.
If you get the right amount of sleep, the researchers were able to see that the brain’s triggers towards foods were reduced. Rest, therefore, goes hand in hand with your well-being and an important healthy lifestyle.
The brain’s trigger to food is increased even more when you add life stress to the mix. This stress is more often than not caused by your work environment. Think about what you tend to do when you come home from a long day at work.
You want to just relax on the couch, not bother with cooking, and most likely end up eating something quick and easy that isn’t the proper nutrition that your body is craving, but what your brain thinks it wants.
The saying is known as “eating your feelings,” and this is made even worse when the stressed person is sleep-deprived. And unfortunately, stress is one of the causes of sleep deprivation, so it is a vicious cycle that keeps on going.
Without sleep, your brain isn’t going to be able to make clear decisions about what is going into your body. It will be attracted to unhealthy foods that can give your body a quick boost for your energy and even your mood.
Science has now clearly proven that the amount of sleep you get will impact not only your ability to focus but also your ability to eat correctly! So, the all-important question – how do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?
One of the first signs that you are getting enough sleep is that you will not be craving the empty calories that are adding to our waistline and not the waistline of our dreams! Sleep actually controls your diet.
8. This Type of Food Is What a Sleep-Deprived Person Craves
A registered dietitian, Jaime Mass, said, “When you’re tired, you’re more likely to crave carbohydrates and sugar to pick yourself up.” She also explained that with a lack of sleep, you’d generally feel more hungry than you would have with a good night’s rest.
Sleep specialist and author, Dr. Michael Breus, said, “It should take anywhere from 15 to 25 to fall asleep. So when you fall asleep in under five minutes, that means you’re sleep-deprived.” It means that you’ll know how little sleep you’ve had, depending on how long it takes for you to go to dreamland.
The worst point in our mornings is the sound of that blaring sound coming from your smartphone. However, thank goodness for the invention of a sleep button to get in that “just five more minutes.” And then another five minutes, followed by another five minutes! Until eventually, you have no choice but to leave your bed.
Sleep scientist, Patrick Fuller, who is also an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, said, “If you woke up naturally without an alarm clock, as opposed to forcing yourself out of bed, then you’ve probably just had a good snooze.”
If your body has gotten the proper rest that it needed, you will actually end up waking up on your own. And for those of you who experience this, will know what a wonderful feeling it is. You do not feel groggy; you feel like you have the energy to tackle a new day!
Now, going back to the correlation between weight gain and sleep means that if you are someone who keeps track of your weight, and even if you haven’t been going to gym or dieting and you notice that somehow you’ve maintained or also lost weight – it’s all because of good sleep!
The weight gain isn’t just because of our brain craving sugar and carbs; it is because when we have a proper night’s rest, our hormones are able to function to their optimal capacity. It means that our insulin production is average.
This notion helps to curb your appetite, and you feel a sense of fullness and not the cravings that you will when sleep deprived. There is one more telltale sign if you’re getting the right amount of sleep.
Did you know that sleep deprivation has a severe impact on your mood? We are basically saying that the more sleep you get – the happier you will be! A bad night’s sleep is a recipe for a bad mood the next day.
The Sleep Health Foundation says that when you are getting the right amount of sleep, you will experience less anxiety. Not only that, but you’ll also be at a lower risk of depression, experience less stress. You will also reduce the chance of extreme reactions to the things happening in your environment.
If you’ve noticed you’ve been quite positive lately, it could be due to a good sleep pattern! Getting sleep will boost your motivation, and you’ll find yourself struggling less with your morning routine of getting up and starting your day.
How much sleep do you need to experience all of these surprising side effects of good sleep? The average adult needs between seven to nine hours, but of course, it is entirely dependent on the individual and what their body needs.
The amount of sleep a person needs varies, but typically an adult will need around seven to nine hours for ideal daytime functioning and health. But, rest isn’t just that simple as making sure you get to bed on time and working out how many hours you’ll be able to get in.
Some surveys on sleeping have shown that about 60% of adults have reported that they find it challenging to sleep three or more nights each week. Can just losing out on one hour’s sleep impact you and your ability to function?
15. Can One Hour of Sleep Make a Significant Difference?
Just one hour’s sleep can make or break you. It has been shown to decrease your reaction time, your concentration, and also impacts your ability to make decisions. There is a severe problem with chronic sleep deprivation.
This condition will also impact the ability of your immune system to function. This makes you more susceptible to infections, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. Make sure that its something you seek help for before it gets out of control.
Apart from the obvious solution of visiting the doctor and getting a prescription for sleeping tablets, what alternatives are there to this? There are some really great options to try out before taking a sleeping pill.
The first important step in improving your sleep is by sticking to a sleep schedule. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will be of great assistance to your body and will help it become its own alarm clock.
Along with this new bedtime routine, you should also get into the habit of regular exercise. But, you need to be careful of when you actually decide to hit the gym or go for a run in the park. You need to work on this timing as well.
Why is that? It’s because if you exercise within the 4 hours before your bedtime, it can actually hinder your ability to fall sound asleep. Plan an early morning workout to boost your energy or early evening to really reap the rewards for your sleep cycle.
Now, we have some bad news. You know those afternoon naps you love to take? Or even those extra five minutes in the morning that add up to about an hour? You need to avoid napping if you are struggling to sleep! You’re probably wondering how this makes any sense – surely, if you’re struggling to sleep but you can for a nap, then you will!
If you are really desperate, only a short nap is recommended. The recommended time is around 20 minutes. A rest of this length can actually be beneficial with your alertness during the daytime. What happens if you nap for longer than this?
If you nap for over 30 minutes, it can have the opposite effect of what you want. It can actually cause you to feel quite drowsy when you wake up from it. You know that feeling when you’re wondering what your name is? That’s why!
It is also recommended that if you want to nap, you don’t do it after 3 pm. If you do, this action could affect the sleep cycle that you’ve hopefully worked really hard on to maintain in your lifestyle; now, onto the drinks that you should not be consuming as a regularly sleep-deprived human.
Yes, coffee lovers, we are talking to you! Caffeine is something you will need to avoid, not entirely, but afternoon. Enjoy your morning cup of coffee if you need a little bit of a boost, but if you drink it anytime past noon, you’ll be up, and buzzing come midnight!
Did you know that nicotine is also a stimulant, and many smokers may also struggle to get to sleep? If you’re serious about getting your sleep cycles in order, it may work in your favor to quit or cut back on smoking. If you notice a difference in the quality of your sleep – you’ll know why.
You might also want to rethink that lovely glass of red wine that you have every single night with your dinner. Yes, red wine may have some health benefits, but alcohol is also something that can disrupt your ability to sleep.
The trick is to avoid drinking it 4-6 hours before you try to go to sleep. We know that it has a lovely way of making you feel sleepy, but that is just an initial effect and will definitely wear off at a very inconvenient time in the middle of the night, and you’ll be stuck staring at the ceiling with no sleep in sight.
Having wine will affect your sleep cycle, and you’ll feel restless during the night because you won’t have had a restorative sleep that you actually needed. So, you’ll need to weigh up your options and see which you enjoy more: a glass of wine or a good night’s sleep?
The next tip is a straightforward one and one that people often ignore or pass on. When you’re tired, go to bed! Simple as that! Sleep waves will come and go, so when you feel one coming on – get up and ride the wave all the way to your duvet and pillows.
Alternatively, if you’re already in bed and you’ve been trying for the past hour to sleep, but you can’t, get out of your bed and the room. Go and do a quiet activity to help your body relax. This includes things like reading a book or maybe even doing a puzzle. Then, when you’re tired – head back to bed!
On this note, the reason you need to leave the room to do this activity is that you should try and get into the habit of using your bedroom as a space that is exclusive just to sleep. This notion means that it should not be a space where you use iPads, phones, do work, or even watch TV. You can Netflix and chill elsewhere too!
While you should use your electronic devices outside of the bedroom, you should also try to put a limit on your screen time before bed as well. As much as we love technology, it has an effect on our sleeping habits. It is mainly due to the blue light that phones, iPads, and TVs emit.
Why is the blue light an issue? The light actually mimics daylight. This concept then, in turn, confuses your body, and it doesn’t release the chemicals that help your body experience the sensation of feeling tired. It can also alter your natural sleep cycles. If you’re struggling to sleep at night, this might be the simple solution you’ve been searching for.
If you make a concerted effort to put down all your devices just 30 minutes before bedtime, you’ll see some significant effects. If you want to really get a good night’s rest, put them away an hour before you go to sleep. Your phone will still be there in the morning, and those texts can wait for a response.
But, if you’re an absolute tech addict, our phone creators have become inventive and are making it easier for us to use our phones in the evening without having them affect our sleep too much. You can dim the backlighting on your phone or set it to night mode. It then reduces the amount of blue light.
Fitness trackers have become the latest accessory on everyone’s wrist. These aren’t just great to track your exercise, but they can track your sleep quality as well. Is it worth it to wear your watch whilst you sleep to monitor your sleep? Let’s find out!
There are more trackers than just watches. There is also non-wearable technology that can help you evaluate how well you are sleeping. Some come in the form of pillows, mattress covers, and even standalone monitors. You also get smartphone apps that don’t need to be synced up to a watch to track your sleep cycle.
27. They May Be Beneficial In Planning Your Sleep Routine
Sleep trackers won’t necessarily solve all your sleep-deprived issues, but they definitely do offer some benefits. Firstly, they can tell you exactly when you went to bed and when you got up. It will give you more information to plan your sleep routine around if you aren’t getting enough sleep.
The wearable sleep trackers will also mostly have a built-in accelerometer. The technology will help to measure the movements you make while you are sleeping. It will show if you’ve had a restless or restful night’s sleep. What else can the sleep trackers do for you?
Some trackers are able actually to identify whether you are awake or not. This technology is done through heart rate and breathing. It will show you whether you’re in a sleeping or wakeful state. This technology all needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as we know that there can be some errors in these assessments.
Modern sleep trackers also make a digital recording of the sleeper’s bedtime habits. Instead of having to record all this data yourself, your phone or device will do that for you. It will help you be more consistent in the monitoring of your sleeping habits since the device is doing all the hard work for you.
The main benefit of the sleep tracker technology is not actually the information that they provide. It is that people will track their sleep, and then it will become a habit that good rest remains one of their top priorities and at the top of their mind.
Through this, people will pay more attention to their sleeping habits and will more likely be able to pinpoint the issues that are causing their sleep deprivation. From this, they will then be able to make lifestyle changes to start to enjoy good and proper sleep.
Now turn it all around, right back to the beginning – how sleep deprivation is the cause of weight gain. When we are tired, not only does our brain crave sugar and carbs, but we are also too tired to make anything that is probably what our body needs. So, how do you get around this issue?
A dietitian at The Johns Hopkins hospital says that “A diet that’s high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar can lead to obesity, elevated blood cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure – all of which are risk factors for heart disease.” Don’t let your sleep deprivation cause these issues for you when there are actually solutions!
He also says that you can still eat healthier when you’re on the go, so despite your time constraints or lack of sleep – you can still maintain a healthy lifestyle that will probably aid in better sleep for you as well. You won’t be stressed about what you’re eating or when you’ll have time to make it.
The first idea is to take time out of your schedule to do some serious meal prep. Pick one day of the week, where you can take a couple of hours to get all your food prepared for the upcoming week. Buy a selection of containers that you can place your meals and snacks. So, when you reach for something when you’re sleep-deprived, you know it’ll be a nutritious meal!
32. Restaurants May Be The Answer To Your Sleep Deprivation Food Needs
If you’re not one for cooking and prefer to eat out, there are lots of restaurants that are promoting healthier meals and even provide their meals with calorie counts so you can monitor exactly what you are putting into your body. The world is becoming a lot easier to stay healthy, which means you have no more excuses!
Instead of taking time out of your schedule to go grocery shopping, take a few minutes to go online and look at restaurant menus. You’ll have a better idea then of what you can expect and what you can order if that is your preference. This concept will help you avoid making bad food decisions when you’re out and sleep-deprived and under pressure from the waiter to pick your meal!
If you’re still not sure what to order since sleep deprivation affects your ability to make decisions, start with a small salad or even a broth-based soup. It is very nutritious and will also help fill you up before you decide on your main course. This food will mean you’re less likely to pick a big carb-loaded dish.
Instead of ordering something fried, try something that is baked, broiled, or grilled. Fish or skinless chicken is excellent when you are trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle, and they’re delicious items to order at restaurants too! Also, try your best to avoid greasy or oil meals.
We know it’s instinctive and delicious to order your meal with a side of chips, coleslaw, or even some buttery mashed potatoes, but challenge yourself to substitute these sides for something like vegetables or a salad. They are often just as delicious and, of course, a lot more nutritious when trying to curb your sleep-deprived brain.
Another issue with restaurants is that their portions can be too big. Train yourself to ask and see if they can do a half portion for you – or ask if they can put the other half in a takeaway bag for another healthy meal for another day? But, when a restaurant is involved, it often means dessert.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of dessert and sleep! There are often slightly healthier dessert options, and you don’t always have to pick the chocolate cake with a massive serving of ice cream. Opt for something like fresh fruit or even a sorbet if you have a craving for something like ice cream.
You also don’t have to go out to eat if you aren’t someone who can prepare healthy food. You can also order fast food. Yes, you heard that correctly – not all fast food is bad food! You don’t have to order a cheeseburger with salty fries on the side. There are a lot more healthy options on the menu, and some even provide you with the calorie count so you can make smart food decisions despite your lack of sleep.
Try going to a fast food place that gives you control over what goes into your order. For example, if you are at a sandwich fast-food chain, ask them not to put mayo on your bread, order extra veggies, and maybe even as them to put your toppings onto some healthy whole wheat bread. This option is a healthier way to give in to your sleep-deprived carb cravings.
Fast food restaurants like this will also often have things like salads or even soups. You don’t have to go for the obvious choice, but it will still be easy and convenient. Some fast-food restaurants will offer you build-your-own bowls or grilled meat and vegetarian options too. Your opportunities are endless!
Some tips when you’re passing through a more traditional drive-thru after a sleepless night include avoiding the fried options. Ask if they can instead give you grilled chicken breast on a sandwich. Also, order small portions instead of being enticed by the “supersize.” Perhaps even try out the kid’s menu, which will give you the taste of the fast food you’ve been wanting but not a huge portion.
You can also pass on any calorie-packed sides and toppings. And to top it off, don’t order a sugary drink with it. Get something with no sugar or one of their fat-free options. Cutting this out will be good for your health and teach you good eating habits when you aren’t doing so well with the sleeping side of life.
The last but not least option to eating healthy when sleep deprived is home-cooked meal kits! You can literally order them for the week and know that you’ll have food to make for every single day. Meal subscription boxes can be lifesavers for the sleepless! You’ll get delicious and healthy homemade meals without the bother of having to grocery shopping when you’re already exhausted.
There are hundreds of different companies that offer this kind of service, which means that you have so many options when it comes to different types of cuisines. The cost is definitely more than if you went to the store yourself, but when you factor in the ease and convenience of the delivery service, it evens itself out.
With pre-measured ingredients, you won’t have to use your brainpower too much, which will definitely be depleted when you haven’t gotten you 7-9 hours sleep in. You’ll also avoid wasting any ingredients that you may have bought unnecessarily if you’d gone shopping while feeling sleepy.
It’s terrific that scientists have discovered the correlation between sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating habits – we can now be aware of them and put measures into place that will prevent sleep deprivation from ruining many aspects of our lives. Pick healthy options, track your sleep cycles, go to bed when you’re tired, and let’s hope you wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to do it all again tomorrow!