Have you noticed a pattern between your diet and quality of sleep? Insomnia or sleep disturbances are common among those with eating disorders (ED). Sleep and eating are essential for one’s physical and psychological functioning – it is important to maintain a nutritionally adequate diet for a good night’s sleep.

Diet quality is associated with adequate sleep duration. Studies show that short sleep duration may affect regulation of appetite through altering levels of hormones (i.e., leptin, ghrelin, insulin).

Quality of sleep and diet are also associated with the regions of the insula and orbitofrontal cortex of the brain – they are involved in food-related behaviors and pleasure-seeking. These regions of the brain were more activated by unhealthier foods versus healthy foods after a period of poor sleep – opposite of the pattern that was observed after an adequate sleeping period.

It is recommended that you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you are someone who has a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some tips on how to improve your sleep:

  • Eat a balanced and nutritionally adequate diet
  • Try to limit foods with added sugars (i.e., sweets)
  • Keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine (i.e., read a book, face mask, take a warm bath)
  • Turn off all social media and lights or technology in the bedroom
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
  • Avoid naps in the afternoon
  • “Booze makes you lose snooze”
  • Avoid large meals right before bed
  • It is best to make sure your last meal is 2-3 hours before bed
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon (i.e. chocolate, tea, coffee, soda)
  • Exercise regularly, but try to avoid high intensity exercise 2 hours before bed as this can activate the HPA axis, making it more difficult to relax and fall asleep
  • Avoid exercising under bright lights before bed as this may delay the circadian clock and suppress melatonin levels
  • Incorporate 150 minutes per week of moderation/vigorous exercise with strength training included – this will improve sleep but is also important for general health

The Nutritional Therapists at Behavioral Nutrition understand the body from a holistic standpoint that gives us a perspective of the relationship between your diet and body. Everything you eat is connected to how you feel and developing healthy eating habits is incredibly important for your well-being. Eating regularly scheduled meals can go a long way to improving how you feel on a daily basis despite constant change in other areas of your life. What you consume is your fuel. Your body is constantly using what you eat to keep you active. When you can control what you consume, you can control your energy to make sure your body is prepared to get a good night’s sleep.

Nutrition and nourishment are not just subjects of food, but health and wellness. A good night’s sleep is essential nutrition for your body’s renewal and the cornerstone of your health. Reach out to learn more about how Nutritional Therapists at Behavioral Nutrition use this holistic ideology to help individuals struggling with eating disorders.