Hands down, getting adequate sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health—it’s as important as proper nutrition and exercise. In fact, it may be even more important. That’s why we’ve made it a two-part series.
In this post, I touch on the effects of chronic sleep deprivation and offer three Fx-approved foods to help you get more shut-eye. These foods can help you fulfill three of the Fx Pillars:
Pillar 2- Eat the rainbow, at least one fruit and two vegetables every day
Pillar 3- Dose with omega-3 fats every day
Pillar 4- Pick your protein: choose plants over fish over fowl over beef
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people who laugh out loud when I share this recommendation. “Yeah right Melanie…I’m lucky if I get five hours of sleep on any given night” they retort, followed up with “besides, I feel perfectly fine on that amount.” That’s even worse, I think silently to myself.
When it comes to being sleep deprived, you don’t know what you don’t know. Just because you feel perfectly fine on five hours of sleep, doesn’t mean it’s OK. In fact, I guarantee that if you committed to getting at least seven hours of sleep each night for one week, you would never again settle for less. Why? Because everything in your life gets better when your body is properly rested and refreshed.
For the record, due to a genetic mutation, only one percent (that’s 1 %) of the population can get by on less than seven hours of sleep. Hint…it’s probably not you! Not convinced? Read on.
Effects of chronic sleep deprivation in your body:
- Decreased immunity: People who average fewer than six hours of sleep per night are four times more likely than those who get more than seven hours to come down with a cold.
- Higher blood sugar: Insufficient sleep affects the body’s hormone levels and ability to regulate and metabolize glucose.
- Weight gain and weight loss-resistance: When you’re sleep deprived, your body goes into survival mode. Your metabolism slows because your body is trying to maintain its resources.
- Increased appetite and junk food cravings: In a sleep deprived-state, your body experiences increased levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates the appetite.
- Increased risk factors for heart disease: A. Marc Gillinov, a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic states that “sleeping a solid seven or eight hours per night is a marker of good heart health. Exactly how sleep influences the coronary arteries is still being studied, but we do know that not getting enough sleep is associated with risk factors for heart disease.”
- Dehydration: Recent research suggests that insufficient sleep may actually cause dehydration by disrupting the release of a hormone that’s key to regulating hydration.
Three Fx-approved foods to help you sleep:
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are good food for sleep because they contain melatonin—the chemical that controls the body’s internal clock to regulate sleep. Nuts are also rich in magnesium and zinc, minerals that help facilitate sleep. Include a serving or two of omega-3-rich nuts or nut butters every day and you will support Fx Pillar 3- Dose with omega-3 fats every day. My favorite combination is walnut butter on apple slices!
- Tart cherries and tart cherry juice are additional sources of melatonin. For a comforting bedtime tonic, add 6 ounces of water and 2 ounces of tart cherry juice to a tea pot or small saucepan and bring to boil. Pour into a mug over a chamomile tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold. Snacking on a handful of fresh tart cherries is a delightful way to meet Fx Pillar 2-Eat the rainbow, at least one fruit and two vegetables every day.
- Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and tuna are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids—nutrients involved in the body’s regulation of serotonin— a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Enjoy fatty fish and you’ll meet Fx Pillar 3- Dose with omega-3 fats every day, and Fx Pillar 4- Pick your protein, choose plants over fish over fowl over beef.
Food for thought…
Without adequate rest your body simply can’t reach its full potential for well-being. Prioritize sleep like your life depends on it…because it does!
In part two of this series, you will learn effective lifestyle and nutrition tips to help you catch more quality Z’s.
Recipe: Energy Nut Butter Bites