Your sleep is just as crucial as your diet. The impact of a good night rest goes beyond merely feeling refreshed, it profoundly influences your overall health and well-begin.
Balanced meals lead to better sleep
You know that high-sugar snacks and meals impact your glucose, but did you know that these same choices and an unsteady plate also impact your sleep? Alternatively, meals that prioritise protein and fats with just a modest amount of complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, beans, and legumes) can help you sleep better. (1) And better sleep promotes better glucose management. In individuals with impaired glucose metabolism, the research points to a clear relationship between poor sleep leading to poor glucose management and poor glucose management leading to impaired sleep. (2) But with some simple changes, you can avoid the cycle. Eat a balanced lunch by filling ½ your plate with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ with proteins, and ¼ with complex carbohydrates. Vegetable soup with a chicken-salad sandwich on wholemeal bread would be a great choice. As you track your glucose, notice how changing the sources and amounts of carbohydrates impacts you. And if your glucose is high, fill up on chicken salad and soup, skipping the bread. Focus on the protein For your evening meal, increase the protein proportion and reduce the complex carbohydrates. An evening meal that’s high in protein and healthy fats with a modest portion of complex carbs like whole grains, beans, and legumes can steady your glucose and improve your sleep quality. (1) Tonight, try one of these delicious ideas: A salad starter and a main dish of salmon, mixed vegetables and lentils An omelette with ham and mushrooms plus a side salad with avocado and seeds Grilled chicken breast with quinoa, roasted peppers, courgettes, and tomatoes
Say no to nightcaps for better glucose and sleep
A drink in the evening after a long day might make you feel relaxed, but behind the scenes, the effects vary between individuals and don’t typically result in a good night’s rest. Even a small amount of alcohol can reduce your sleep quality. (1) Alcohol dehydrates your body, and many drinks contain carbohydrates. Both these factors make it harder for your body to stabilise your glucose. The carbohydrates in the drink can spike your glucose, leading to a rapid drop in energy levels. This can cause restless and disrupted sleep, which means you’ll feel less refreshed the next day. Increased glucose can also cause more frequent urination during the night, which can further disrupt your sleep. Good sleep helps glucose control Better sleep means less cortisol (a stress hormone) in your body during the night. And lower cortisol helps your body stay steady while you sleep. Sleep is vital to recharging your mind and body. A healthier combination If you do have alcohol in the evening, have some unsalted nuts and water with your beverage. The protein and healthy fats in the nuts support steady glucose, and the water works to keep you hydrated.
How to sleep better: Tips for falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest
It's no secret that a good night's sleep is vital for your overall health and wellbeing. The impact of sleep extends beyond simply feeling refreshed; our shuteye influences our energy levels, physical health, mood, and daily activities. Although there is no one-size-fits-all advice, there are things you can do to help improve your sleep. And, since everyone has different biological factors and lifestyles, it’s best to try a few different strategies Although it’s a common misconception that getting more hours of sleep per night means you’re getting better sleep, that’s not always the case. The quality of sleep is paramount, and your habits throughout the day and in the evenings can have a major impact on the quality of sleep you’ll get. You may have heard of the term “sleep hygiene.” This term was coined in the early 1970s and is used to refer to a sleep routine or sleep habits that are conducive to promoting good quality sleep and daytime alertness (1). This guide is intended to empower you to try several different sleep hygiene methods to improve your sleep naturally as you build healthier routines and habits that work for you. Why getting a good night’s sleep is important Sleep can make a huge difference to your overall health and wellbeing, making it one of the most important things to optimise in any health journey. Think about a time when you were sleep deprived – it's likely you didn’t feel like exercising, didn’t make the healthiest food choices, and had trouble concentrating and staying focused. Effects of lack of sleep When you don’t get enough quality sleep, it can disrupt your body’s ability to regulate glucose and increase your chance of glucose spikes and dips (2). Dysregulated glucose can lead to fluctuations in mood and energy (3), cravings for starchy foods, and an increased risk of overeating (4). These foods then further disrupt your glucose. And so, the cycle continues. Poor sleep can also result in a reduced ability to fend off illness (5). While these are the short-term effects of sleep deprivation, a lack of sleep can also have a long-term impact on your health and wellbeing. Long-term consequences of sleep disruption in otherwise healthy individuals include hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer (10, 11). Poor sleep has also been tied to an increased risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease (12). 8 ways to improve your sleep Here are our tips to set yourself up for a successful night of sleep. 1. Wind down your caffeine intake Your meal or snack choices can have a significant impact on your sleep. You might be aware that you should avoid stimulants such as coffee, some teas, and dark chocolate before bed as the caffeine can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Everyone metabolises caffeine differently. One person may be fine with their third coffee later in the day, while another may not be OK with even one coffee in the morning. To ensure a peaceful night’s rest, try cutting out caffeine at least six hours before bed and switching to decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas in the afternoon and evening. 2. Learn how different meal choices affect you Your meal choices throughout the day, and particularly around dinner time, can lead to dysregulated glucose beyond typical glucose spikes. This can make it harder to fall asleep and also disturb sleep quality (5, 6). Prioritise protein, fats, and fibrous vegetables as you reduce the amount of carbs on your plate. This helps to maintain steady glucose levels. Personalised coaching, such as that provided through Lingo, can help guide you towards making better meal choices, help motivate you, and help keep you on track with this crucial element of your sleep health. 3. Create a relaxing sleep environment Make your bedroom a calm, comfortable space that promotes restful sleep. Consider things like comfortable bedding, blackout curtains or an eye mask, or a white noise machine to help create your perfect sleep environment. These seemingly small touches can make a big difference. Avoid unnecessary clutter, as this can create a chaotic environment, which is not conducive to relaxation. Try to avoid working in your bedroom, as your brain starts associating the space with productivity and stress rather than relaxation and rest. 4. Limit screens before bed The blue light emitted by screens can suppress production of the sleep hormone melatonin and interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. So, it’s best to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bed, or switch to audio-only content like podcasts (but make sure the topic is relaxing!). If you’re used to replying to emails or studying in the evening, this might require setting a hard deadline. If your schedule doesn't allow for that much time between screen and sleep, consider installing a blue light filter for your screen and/or investing in blue light-blocking glasses. An additional issue with screens is that the content you’re viewing can be very stimulating, thereby increasing brain activity even if you feel relaxed and comforted at the time. Try to avoid watching TV and movies, playing video games, and scrolling through social media right before bed. Instead, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read or listen to music or a podcast. 5. Avoid alcohol later in your day It’s a common misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. However, while alcohol might help you fall asleep quicker, imbibing leads to a more restless and disrupted sleep, creating a greater likelihood of waking up during the night. Alcohol before bed can drive a reduction in REM sleep, the phase of sleep that is crucial for dreaming, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation. Look to replace your evening cocktail or glass of wine with one of the following: Herbal teas: chamomile, valerian root, and lemon balm are all known for their natural calming properties. Golden milk (turmeric latte): blend milk with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and a touch of honey for a comforting drink with anti-inflammatory properties. 6. Practice relaxation techniques While prioritising sleep is important all the time, it’s essential when you’re feeling overwhelmed. When you’re overly stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone. Too much cortisol can not only affect your glucose, but also disrupt your sleep patterns. High cortisol levels have been linked to insomnia, waking up during the night, and less sleep time overall (8). Although it may be hard to get the quality sleep you need when you’re stressed, take time to relax and wind down before bed. You’ll feel better the next day. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help to ease your mind and reduce your stress levels before bed. A simple breath technique involves inhaling slowly for a count of four and exhaling smoothly for a count of four. 7. Write down your thoughts If you feel anxious or worried about the next day, take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts or worries on a notepad next to your bed. You may even find it useful to write down your top three priorities for the next day. This can help you clear your mind and unwind. It can also be comforting to make note of three things you are grateful for. This practice can help shift your stress and help you feel ready for sleep. 8. Follow a bedtime routine (sleep hygiene) A consistent bedtime routine can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This can include things like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or some light stretching. It’s also a good idea to wake up around the same time every day and get exposure to natural sunlight within the first couple hours of waking up to set your circadian rhythm. Use these tips as inspiration to create a regular routine that can significantly improve your sleep quality. Even making one or two adjustments can have a positive impact on both your sleep and your glucose. A final note from Lingo Quality sleep is paramount for overall health and wellbeing. The relationship between sleep and glucose is powerful, and when disrupted, has a wide array of health consequences. It’s beneficial to work towards better sleep to support your mood, energy, immune health, and more (10). Achieving better sleep requires a personalised approach, and Lingo is here to support you at every step.