Why is it so important?

Sleep is one of the most underrated lifestyle factors and a core pillar of health. A lack of sleep/poor sleep quality is associated with a range of everyday & athletic performance deficits. They include decreased concentration/focus/lethargy, suppressed immune function, increased reaction times & reduced precision/accuracy to name a few.

Did you know sleep can also affect your appetite & affinity for certain foods?

Sleep plays a role in regulating our hunger hormones. After a poor night of sleep the appetite hormone ghrelin (that signals to our brain when we are full) is increased . In tandem, release of the satiety hormone leptin (signals when we are full) is suppressed. Ultimately this can lead to consumption of extra calories.
After a poor night of sleep our affinity for more convenient, readily available foods is also increased. Again, this can lead to consumption of extra calories by choosing energy dense foods (e.g. crisps, takeaways).

So what small changes can you make to improve your sleep?

  • Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep per night. If this goal seems a long way off at the moment, start working towards that 8 hour mark in 30 minute increments
  • Ensure your room is cool & dark
  • Avoid caffeine containing beverages at least 6 hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant with a half life of 6 hours (if you consume a cup of coffee at 7pm, 1/2 of the caffeine is still in your system at 1am). This might not affect your ability to fall asleep but it can interfere with your sleep quality
  • Try having a hot shower at least 60 minutes before bed. This will raise your body temperature allowing it to gradually drop over the hour or so before bed which can help improve sleep latency (time it takes to fall asleep)

Hopefully this helps to highlight the importance of sleep & that often it’s role in health is in fact, slept on (excuse the pun)!