Combine sleep and diet

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

According to a 2013 INSV/MGEN “sleep and environment” survey, nearly 4 out of 10 people sleep poorly and suffer from sleep disorders. However, poor sleep can have an impact on your weight just as your diet can impact the quality of your sleep. The two being closely linked, it is important to take care of your sleep as well as your diet to take care of your body and your health.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

How does sleep work?

Sleep is divided into 3 phases:

  • Falling asleep lasts on average 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Slow wave sleep which lasts 1h10 to 1h40.
  • Paradoxical sleep lasting 10 to 15 minutes. Dedicated to dreams, it helps relieve the tensions of the day, sort the information transmitted during the day and promote the storage of learning in long-term memory.

A night is a succession of 4 to 6 of these sequences of phases.

3 neurotransmitters play a predominant role in your biological clock:

  • Melatonin. It is secreted in response to the absence of light with a peak between 2 and 4 a.m. Its production is inhibited by light. Hence the importance of sleeping in a room with closed shutters at night and letting light in during the day.
  • Serotonin which allows the relaxation and perspective needed at the end of the day to fall asleep well.
  • Dopamine, a hormone that helps you get started in the morning.

A lack of sleep causes many dysfunctions in our body:

  • Memory problems
  • Mood disorders
  • Decrease in our immune response
  • Arrhythmia, high blood pressure
  • Increased insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes.
  • Weight gain …

Eat well to sleep well

I take care of my digestion and I eat light in the evening:

Good chewing and a light dinner allow for better digestion, better falling asleep and then better sleep.

I take care of my neurotransmitters:

Serotonin is derived from tryptophan, an amino acid that we must provide through our diet.

For dopamine, here too an amino acid acts as a precursor, this is tyrosine.

These amino acids are provided through the consumption of protein. The synthesis of these neurotransmitters also requires sufficient iron and magnesium intake.

So :

  • I favor a breakfast containing proteins rich in tyrosine (cheese, ham, eggs, etc.) to make my morning start easier.
  • I make a snack by favoring oilseed fruits (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.) rich in magnesium
  • I limit red meats at dinner and I prefer fish, richer in tryptophan.

I stock up on omega 3, good for my neurons:

The omega 3s found in fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, etc. and in rapeseed oils, walnuts, etc. allow good communication between neurons. They will therefore allow the information transmitted by neurotransmitters to pass efficiently from neuron to neuron.

The recommendations are one tablespoon/day/person of a virgin oil rich in omega 3 such as rapeseed or nuts and to eat fatty fish at least once/week.

I think about herbal teas which can help me sleep better and I avoid stimulants at the end of the day:

Certain plants can offer natural solutions to help us sleep better, particularly thanks to their calming properties. Here is a small anthology: lemon balm, valerian, chamomile, passionflower, hawthorn.

In addition, it is important to avoid sources of stimulants from the end of the afternoon such as coffee, alcohol, cola, etc.

The role of sleep in weight management

Numerous studies have shown that people who sleep less quantity but also who have poorer quality sleep have a higher body mass index.

Lack of sleep leads to excess ghrelin synthesis. However, this hormone stimulates the appetite to the detriment of leptin, the satiety hormone.

Serotonin also plays a major role as a regulator of appetite. Thus, in the event of a serotonin deficiency, you risk sleep disorders and also disturbances in your eating sensations such as a feeling of being more hungry and more difficulty feeling full, leading to an increase in the quantities consumed.

Sleep deprivation would also lead to an increase in insulin and cortisol levels. Cortisol is also called the “stress hormone” and tends to increase appetite when produced in excess. Insulin acts as a storage hormone by transforming carbohydrates into fats. If we produce in excess, we will increase our fat mass and especially our abdominal fat mass.

To avoid falling into the vicious cycle of weight gain that leads to sleep problems which can further lead to weight gain, be careful with your diet and respect your body’s rest needs.

And when I work at night, what do I do?

I make regular meals with:

– a complete meal before leaving for work, consisting of protein, vegetables, starchy foods and dairy products.

– a snack in the night to allow me to revive my attention and alertness (some examples of snacks: a cottage cheese and a piece of fruit, a bowl of soup and a slice of ham, a slice of cheese and a piece of fruit).

– a light breakfast before going to bed to help me sleep.

– a full lunch between 1 and 2 p.m. consisting of protein, vegetables, starchy foods and dairy products.

  • I avoid eating too much fat: this increases digestive problems and drowsiness.
  • I avoid foods rich in simple sugars, especially outside of meals, and I favor complex sugars that I find in starchy foods.
  • I respect a sleep schedule by having a “night” of sleep of around 7 hours when I come home by closing my shutters and a nap in the afternoon.