Nutrition, sleep and well-being

Our well-being and health consists of many variables - sleep and nutrition being two of them. How are they connected?

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Rest is important for your health

Our well-being and health consists of many variables - sleep and nutrition being two of them. Both have a huge impact on our everyday lives - in the short term, but also for our long term health. So how are they connected, and what can you do to optimize the two?

Nutrition

Nutrition is vital for our physical and mental health. Food doesn’t only provide fuel for our bodies, it also provides us with essential nutrients needed for our bodily functions (1), such as cell growth, for our hormones, enzymes - as well as keeping our bones, heart and other vital organs functioning and healthy. 

A healthy and balanced diet can also prevent diseases. Eating a varied diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, healthy unsaturated fat and lean protein, and reducing the intake of food rich in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type 2, obesity and certain cancers (2). A balanced and varied diet in line with your energy requirement is key to optimal health. 

Sleep 

As for nutrition, sleeping is also vital for our health. Getting a full night of sleep makes us feel rested, energized and more productive in the morning, whereas lack of sleep can make us feel fatigue, dizzy, nauseous and even make us feel like we have a fever.

The amount and quality of your sleep have a big impact on your overall health. Getting proper rest can influence eating habits, mood, memory, and focus. Experts suggest that, on average, we need seven to nine hours of restful sleep a night (3). Sleeping is also vital for our immune system to function properly (4). 

A few nights with lack of sleep might not cause any major harm for our health, but long-term sleep deprivation can negatively affect heart health and mental wellbeing while increasing your risk for diabetes and stroke (3).

Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of obesity, as sleeping plays a part in keeping a balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry and full. Some studies have shown that with a lack of sleep, the hunger hormone ghrelin goes up, while leptin - the hormone that makes you full, goes down (3). 

Connections between food intake and sleep 

Our routines such as dietary habits and how we spend our days can significantly impact how we sleep. There are things we can do to improve our chances of getting a full night of sleep and waking up rested in the morning. Some food and beverages can interfere with our sleeping habits, while making mindful choices can increase the chances of getting a full night of proper sleep. 

Foods and beverages that can have a negative impact on your sleep:

  • Caffeine - as it makes us alert and energized. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours, so drinking a cup of coffee in the afternoon might disrupt your chances of falling asleep at night
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Heavy meals before bedtime - eating large volumes close to bedtime can increase the risk of heartburn and discomfort in the stomach, which can interfere with your sleep (3)

Other aspects that can help to improve your sleep habits:

  • Stick to routines; aim at going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Spend time outside everyday and get some fresh air
  • Be physically active at least 30 minutes a day 
  • Reduce screen time in the evening, as the screens can stimulate our brains and make them feel like they should be awake (5) 

Sleep and nutrition, along with other things such as physical activity and mental health  - are crucial for our overall health. Be kind to yourself and nourish your body with nutrient rich foods, and make sure that you get enough rest - for your optimal well being.

5 references (hide)

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.

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