We all have this thing inherent in our bodies called a circadian rhythm.
Circadian Rhythm: Physical, mental, & behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle.
This rhythm is primarily affected by light & dark- and it doesn't only affect humans. Animals, plants, and even microbes are affected by the circadian rhythm.
How does this work?
There's a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It houses a collection of nerve cells called the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN. There are over 20,000 nerve cells in it. The SCN & hypothalamus receive input directly from the eyes.
This means that as your eyes input light, a direct link is sent to your body signaling you whether it is a natural progression to be awake or asleep.
How does this affect sleep?
Our sleep is regulated by so many factors, one being light like I mentioned above. Another factor influencing our sleep is our food lifestyle. The things we choose to eat and drink have a nonstop connection to how we sleep.
For Example: Protein is a precursor to tryptophan (hop back to the last blog post if you missed it), which makes it great to eat as a meal prior to sleep. Many people who have shorter or interrupted sleep cycles tend to derive a decent percentage of energy from fat and carbohydrates.
Lack of regular, consistent sleep is associated with many metabolic disorders. This is because our bodies run on a rhythm and that in and of itself regulates hormones, metabolism, and a whole slew of other factors that impact our overall health.
Why will an hour less sleep affect my health positively?
This weekend is the beginning of daylight savings (you're welcome for the reminder).
Daylight savings gives us more sunlight during the day, introduces a growing season for fresh fruits and vegetables, which signals the body that we are no longer in save-the-fat-for-winter mode, but allows our bodies to integrate into Spring/Summer. More sunlight also indicates a longer time period of being awake within the hypothalamus.
While we are awake longer, we tend to be more tired when the sun goes down, and the body adjusts to this season well. More sunlight also increases warmth, time outside, and Vitamin D which improves mood. Less indoor and sedentary time improves mobility and cardiovascular health.
All of these benefits come at the cost of one hour of sleep. For those of you without kids, it's an easy "yes". For those of us with kids, it's still a yes- but we'll take three weeks to get there.
How can I nutritionally support my body during this transition?
1. Eat your heaviest amount of carbs in the morning when you need the most energy. If you're low-carb to begin with, try this Green Eggs & Ham recipe. The avocado addition to this leaves you surprisingly full.
If your body handles carbs well, whip up High Protein Butter Banana Overnight Oats (prep-able!).
2. Snack well. Craving something sweet? Try these Cocoa Dusted Almonds, subbing cocoa for cacao and confectioners sugar for monk fruit ground in a blender for 10 seconds.
3. Finally, eat a protein rich meal for dinner so your body gets the signal that sleep isn't too far away. Easy & prep-able Grilled Chicken Curry Salad gives you an excuse to get the grill out early. Craving takeout? Try a 20-Minute Egg Roll Bowl for easy prep & clean up!
We got this. Want to know more about having your meals planned and groceries ordered for you to pick up weekly? Check it out here on the site and get your first week for FREE.