It’s ingrained in our heads that everyone needs a good 8 hours of sleep to be at their best. But we like to be realists. It’s unlikely that most of us are getting that, unless it’s vaca time. And even then it’s questionable. When life is always go, go, go for us gals, too many of us fall victim to two things…eating really fast (often junk/fast food) and getting maybe 6 hours of sleep. So it begs the question: is a bad diet worse than a bad sleep schedule?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that combination is a recipe for disaster. So…we are letting you in on a little secret: a bad diet and a bad sleep schedule go hand in hand. It’s like a really bad, mismatched outfit. If you find that surprising, you’re not alone – promise! Read on for the explanation.
When You’ve Got A Bad Diet…
We can digest pretty much anything. That explains why the weirdo eating paper or dirt in elementary school was totally fine afterwards. (No judgments if that was you growing up.)
But try thinking of your body like a machine. It needs fuel. The better you take care of it, the better the machine runs. Clean, whole, foods (not processed) will digest with ease, but the bad stuff is a whole different story. Here’s why a bad diet can affect your sleep schedule.
Digestion is harder
You’ll physically digest ‘bad’ foods like fried chicken and indulgent desserts without a problem, but it’s a lot more difficult on your system to do so. It takes more time for your body to go through the process because it’s digesting things that it’s not naturally meant to. That can affect your ability to snooze well.
Sleep is about so much more than actually feeling good the following day. It’s your body’s chance to do any repairs to itself, like work on muscle tissue that’s been stressed during the day’s **cough** workout, or help fight off illness.
So when your body is busy trying to metabolize the ‘bad’ foods, it has less time to do what it really needs to. Basically, your body’s time management skills aren’t the greatest. Good thing you have the power to improve that by eating better.
Eating the wrong things, at the wrong times
You’re tight with coffee in the morning because the caffeine wakes you up. Well, that energy boost can hit you at night too. Caffeine hides in all sorts of weird places, and ironically several of those items are typical after dinner treats. Like chocolate and some types of ice cream. So those poor (but decadent, we know) food choices contribute to troubles dozing off into dreamland quickly. Self sabotage at its best.
When you’ve got a bad sleep schedule…
“I’ll go to sleep after I get (insert chore XYZ done here.) or after I watch (insert favorite TV show here.)” Sound about right? Just because you can physically function on 5 hours of zzz’s or so doesn’t mean you should. The dishes can wait.
Messed up appetite
This one is kind of overwhelming because a lot of things appetite-related can happen when you don’t get enough sleep. Like increased cravings for carb-rich foods (hello doughnuts and coffee!), which can negatively impact your metabolism. Plus it plays really mean games with your brain by weakening its ability to tell your body its full. So if you’ve seen the scale jump higher than you’d like, take sleep into account. It may be responsible for some recent overeating.
Timing is everything
It’s not just what you eat, it’s when you eat it. And if shedding some pounds is on your to-do list, this one is especially important. One study revealed that those who ate the biggest meal of the day after 3:00pm lost less weight than those who ate larger meals earlier in the day. Those folks couldn’t metabolize carbs as well either. Try making breakfast your biggest meal of the day, lunch a little smaller, and dinner the smallest of the day. Going to bed feeling totally stuffed is no fun anyway.
We want to hear your thoughts too! Is a bad diet worse than a bad sleep schedule for you?