How Lack of Sleep Affects Health
Lack of sleep reduces our disease resistance. Sleep produces neuromediators, special chemicals that make our bodies work smoothly like clockwork. That’s why the immune system needs sleep. People who sleep well are less likely to get sick.
Healthy sleep reduces the risk of most neurological and psychiatric conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders, depression, stroke, and cancer, makes people balanced and harmonious. On the other hand, sleep deprivation leads to immune decline, impaired antibody production, memory, and attention. Moreover, it increases the chances of shortening life due to abrupt disruptions in circadian rhythms. That is, those whose circadian rhythms are sharp live long.
Insomnia entails fatigue, mood swings, impaired coordination and memory, drowsiness, irritability, decreased concentration, increased stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline), and blood sugar levels, eventually leading to overweight and morbid obesity.
Hormones, Sleep, and Proper Eating Relationship
Some studies prove that lack of sleep leads to more snacks during the day. Lack of sleep leads to lower levels of the hormone leptin. Leptin, in turn, is responsible for our sense of satiety. It is produced in fat cells. At the same time, more ghrelin, which is responsible for the feeling of hunger, is produced. An imbalance of these hormones leads to a constant feeling of hunger and a lack of satiety. As a consequence, we eat more and gain weight.
In addition, other hormonal processes directly influence the progression of obesity and diabetes. Let’s analyze the relationship between the last meal and falling asleep late.
As we know, the pancreas is involved in the process of digestion. It produces insulin. At 9 p.m. local time, the pancreas must stop working. Considering that the food stays in the stomach for at least one and a half to two hours, you should have your last meal at 18-19 hours. It is done so that by 21 o’clock, the insulin that is spent on the food that enters the stomach is released. At 9 p.m., the pancreas should be asleep.
It passes the baton to melatonin. It’s a hormone that’s secreted by the epiphysis. It takes the rally and starts secreting at 11 p.m. until 3 or 4 a.m. Melatonin is the growth hormone. Children only grow when they sleep. It is a well-measured fact. This hormone regulates all hormonal and enzymatic activity of the entire endocrine system. It is the driver of the hormone rhythm, which begins its shift at 11 p.m.
That is why it is so important to fall asleep just before midnight. Breaking the bedtime will cause the hormones to malfunction. If you eat after 7 p.m., you make the stomach work and release insulin later than it should, and there will be a disruption of communication. It’s a subtle mechanism. The only thing available for proper eating between 9 and 11 p.m. are fermented dairy products containing bifidobacteria or an apple, which will not strain your stomach.
In turn, melatonin is an antagonist of cortisol, the stress hormone. An overabundance of cortisol also leads to obesity. Let’s look at its characteristic signs:
- Obesity in the abdominal area with thin limbs.
- Moon-shaped face – when fat accumulates on the chin, causing the face to take a rounded shape.
- Formation of accrued fatty tissue at the junction of the neck and shoulders (widow’s hump).
- Stretch marks in the abdominal area due to weight gain and a lack of collagen.
- Reduced skin elasticity.
- Acne (This is not a 100% sign, but it is an additional sign).
- Decreased cognitive function, memory, and learning ability.
- Chronic sleep disturbance.
The higher the cortisol levels, the more likely this type of obesity will develop. You have to deal with the excess weight caused by elevated cortisol and stress levels in the body:
Adhere to a sleep schedule
Cortisol is involved in circadian rhythms. It allows us to wake up in the morning. A healthy person’s melatonin rises in the evening – the sleep hormone increases, the person falls asleep, and the body regenerates. Healthy people wake up with the first rays of light because the cortisol increases.
People who have chronic cortisol disorders have difficulties waking up in the morning. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce caffeine intake. Because caffeine increases average daily cortisol levels.
Establish a proper diet
It is essential to stick to a balanced diet, eliminate fast carbohydrates, and reduce the consumption of fats and processed foods. In addition, reduce the amount of sugar and caffeine.
It is necessary to keep a calorie diary to calculate their energy consumption and maintain a balance of nutrients and trace elements needed for the body’s healthy functioning.
Unfortunately, you won’t do anything about being overweight if you have trouble sleeping. For such people, a calorie deficit won’t work. Because cortisol can break down muscle, recycle it into energy and deposit it as belly fat.
Foods Not to Eat Before Going to Bed
Based on what we have already described above, it is not beneficial to eat before going to bed. However, you can reduce the consumption of foods that directly affecting falling asleep and sleep quality.
Try to avoid spicy or acidic foods after 7 p.m. It applies to spices, tomato sauces, and acidic foods. They may provoke an increased heart rate and trigger acid reflux or heartburn.
Try to avoid fatty and protein foods. For example, although steaks are popular for dinner, you should refrain from eating them. They take more energy to digest, preventing melatonin’s timely triggering.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
Foods You Can Eat Before Bedtime
There are acceptable foods if you still want to adhere to proper eating before bed or do not have time to have dinner. For example, we have already written that fermented dairy products are acceptable because they contain bifidobacteria, which help food digestion. They include plain yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, grainy cottage cheese, and kefir.
Long-digesting carbohydrates also do not harm. These can include raw vegetables, leafy salads, and whole-grain bread.
Lean white fish, about 100 grams, is also suitable for supper. It has little fat but is rich in healthy protein, iodine, and phosphorus. Fish is easily digestible and helps to reduce harmful cholesterol in the blood.