The Food Sleep Connection: How to have a better night’s sleep

People who are drunk have been shown to outperform those who are lacking sleep! The cost of insufficient sleep is dangerously high for individuals and employers. We can change this and sleep better by manipulating the connection between food and sleep.

Sleep increase the risk of numerous diseases, it makes weight control more difficult and negatively affects mood. Work performance is reduced dramatically by insufficient sleep with impairment in judgement, reduced concentration, lack of motivation, slower creativity, increased errors and reduced ability to manage emotion.

Enough good quality sleep is vital for a happy, healthy and productive workplace. How can we achieve this with our increasingly busy lives? We can utilise the power of food to help us sleep better naturally and simply. Increase the duration and the quality of the sleep you get with these nutrition tips.

Consider if you need to turn things upside down?

Most of us start the day with a quick breakfast, grab something for lunch then we might have an afternoon snack, go home for our evening meal, have something sweet, then perhaps a snack…. Our day is often bottom heavy with food which makes it harder to sleep well. See if you can begin to turn this around and eat more at the beginning of the day and less later on. One way you can do that is have a bigger breakfast…

Get breakfast right and make it easier to eat well all day

Eating less fibre, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative and more disturbed sleep. Having a good breakfast including some protein will help to control your blood sugar levels cravings and hunger all day making it easier to make good food choices.

Try: A cheese and tomato and spinach omelette with granary bread or live greek yoghurt with berries and nutty muesli (easy take to work breakfast). How about peanut butter, strawberry and banana quesadillas for breakfast? Here’s the recipes for this super simple and quick and hugely nourishing dish, https://www.relishwellbeing.com/2016/02/04/peanut-butter-strawberry-banana-quesadillas-recipe/

Choose food which will nourish you

To sleep well the hormones and neurotransmitters involved need to be balanced. Giving your body the right fuel with a good balance of macronutrients and enough micronutrients enables this to happen. For example zinc and calcium are natural muscle relaxants and copper regulates serotonin (a brain chemical needed for sleep).

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Instead of choosing a meal deal of a white baguette filled with some chicken mayonnaise, a packet of crisps and a sugary drink look for nutrient packed lunches. Choose options with beans, nuts, meat or fish, different coloured veg or salad and wholegrain such as bulgar wheat or wholemeal pittas. Buy or make dishes such as lemon and feta quinoa salad, spicy chicken salad wrap, chickpea bulgar wheat salad with halloumi. Ask our nutrition consultant for lots of inspiring lunch ideas.

Adjust your caffeine cut off time

Caffeine stays in our system for up to 24 hours! Even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed has been shown to reduce sleep by more than 1 hour. Caffeine can be a really useful stimulant. To use it to it’s advantage enjoy a cup of coffee during the morning and try and bring your caffeine cut off point earlier in the day, before 2pm if you can. The effects of cutting caffeine can be seen really quickly, not having caffeine for a single day has been shown to improve sleep quality.

Having a bigger breakfast, making some tweaks to your lunch and cutting back on afternoon coffee and tea are all fairly small tweaks which could have a big impact on how much sleep you get and how good this sleep is. A happy chain reaction then begins; if you’ve had little bit more high quality, restorative sleep you’ll feel better the next day which will affect your food choices, therefore you’ll sleep better that night and so on…

If you would like to explore the food and sleep connection more and find out if a bedtime snack is a good idea? what food will help you fall asleep faster? and what single food to eat to potentially increase the amount you sleep by 13%? contact us at info@relishwellbeing.com to find out about our Food and Sleep Workshop for your workplace.