Let’s get right to it! I’ve got a quick quiz for you:
Crash out soon as you hit the pillow at night?
Roll out of bed feeling groggy?
Wake up more than once per night?
Wake for more than 15 minutes at a time during the night?
Take longer than 30 minutes to doze off?
Struggle with weight management even when you’re eating clean?
Want to optimize your health and feel your best?
If you answered “yes” to ANY of the questions above, this article is for you!
People often see sleep in black and white. You either get your 8 hours or you don’t. There’s actually more to the story - quality of sleep matters as much if not more than quantity. Crummy sleep may be normal for you, making it hard to see you can use improvements in this area.
I’m speaking from experience here. A few months ago I went through a similar list of questions. It was unbelievable to me that I hadn't been aware of the lousy condition of sleep I was getting. As a health coach and wellness junkie, I was focused on devouring self-help books, working out, eating clean, experimenting with non-toxic cleaning… I could go on. Sleep quality wasn’t on my radar, even though I knew how important shuteye is for wellness.
Poor sleep is linked to weight gain, obesity, depression, brain fog, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, poor immune function and more. By optimizing your sleep you can not only have an advantage in overcoming those issues, but you’ll also experience more creativity, enhanced performance in and recovery from workouts, boosted productivity and memory, and slower aging.
All this is to say it’s a huge topic and is worth your while to dig into. Let’s start carving into it by focusing on how sleep and nutrition interrelate.
Like sleep, nutrition is foundational to health. Improvements in either create benefits that spill out to all areas of our lives. Naturally, they also affect one another.
How sleep affects diet
Insufficient sleep is the strongest risk factor for obesity for many reasons including improper hormone balance. This leads to a propensity to store fat and have a higher appetite overall. These dysregulated hormones also cause one to experience cravings, especially for simple carbohydrates like sugary treats. Top it all off with a lack of energy to be active, and you can see how this is a problem.
How diet affects sleep
CLEAN.FIT gets it. The first thing I work on with clients is transitioning them to a clean diet free from artificial ingredients. Fueling your body to look and feel your best is also the best diet for optimizing sleep. Other important considerations:
Everyone metabolizes caffeine differently. As a general recommendation, I suggest cutting off caffeine consumption in the early afternoon. If you’re like me and take longer to metabolize caffeine, you may want to look at nixing it altogether or limiting consumption to just to mornings. Regardless of when you stop, quantity does matter. Consider reducing overall caffeine consumption. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason or feel wired when you lay down to go to bed, caffeine could be the issue.
Another general recommendation to stay well hydrated also is a factor in improving sleep quality (and overall energy levels) as well. Your body simply functions its best when you’re drinking enough (non sugary, non caffeinated) fluids including but not limited to restoring itself while you’re snoozing. If you wake up in the night to use the bathroom, limit fluid intake an hour or two before bedtime. You don’t want to hydrate at the expense of sleep quality.
People often use alcohol to wind down. It may help many people to fall asleep, but it disrupts your sleep cycles and can cause dehydration. Sleeping under the influence can leave you waking up less than refreshed and isn’t going to do you any favors in the health-optimization department.
Eating right before bed is not recommended if you care about sleep quality. This can cause discomfort for some people, especially those who experience heart burn, making it difficult to fall asleep. Once you do fall asleep, you don’t want your body focused on digestion. You want to be going through the restorative phases of sleep. You’ll have to find what works for you, because going to bed on an empty stomach for some people is another barrier to falling asleep. This is a change you may need to take slowly, allowing your body time to adapt over time to a 2-hour or so window of not eating before bed.
Certain supplements taken before bed can help you to relax, fall asleep more easily, and have better sleep. (I’m looking at you magnesium!). Any other supplements are best taken earlier in the day or they may disrupt your sleep as they are metabolized by your body.
Sleeping better leads to better dietary choices, which leads to better sleep, which leads to … you see where I’m going with this. You can quickly create a snowball effect, which will lead you to improved health and more energy to put your best foot forward in all areas of your life!
About Coach Caitie:
Hello, my name is Caitlin, but those close to me call me Caitie :) I specialize in helping to revitalize people who are held back by low energy. In my formal training as a health coach and informal lifelong experience being a wellness junkie, I’ve learned to cut through the clutter of all the contradictory information out there. My clients and I work together to figure out the best, individualized approach they should take to reach their goals and optimize their health. I’m also certified as a personal trainer, but we look beyond just diet and exercise at a host of lifestyle factors. As a coach, I don’t just provide the information; I’m there for that support and accountability my clients need to create sustainable change.
Head over to CoachCaitie.com now to sign up for my 7-day stress-less program. It’s my free gift to you! P.S. Less stress = better sleep and diet ;)