When it comes to optimising your health, there are 3 factors you should always consider important – exercise, nutrition and sleep. These three influence one another. The rhythm of one factor may affect the other, which then can influence the third.
Let’s put it this way. Good nutrition can help you perform exercises, allowing you to sleep better. Good sleep helps you have a balanced appetite leading to good nutrition.
The Right Formula: Exercise, Sleep and Nutrition
Exercise is of paramount importance for getting benefits for overall health.
In a 2017 study by NJ Beer et al, 58 participants were given either a prepared set of exercises or a choice of exercise. They were also presented with a choice of foods, in which the participants thought was a way of thanking them for taking part in the exercise study.
Post exercise, in those given no-choice exercise, higher energy intake of food was consumed with larger proportion of “unhealthy” food compared to the choice exercise group. The choice exercise group reported greater value and enjoyment of the exercise. This means that freedom to choose an exercise not only provides positive reinforcement upon exercising but also improves food choice.
Though it’s clear that exercise is good for your health, it’s also necessary to consider the time of the day to maximise the beneficial effects.
A great workout can make you feel alert and energised, so doing it before bedtime is not recommended. Sleep experts recommend exercising at least 3 hours before bedtime, and the best time is usually late afternoon. Body temperature rises when you exercise and drops a few hours later. Lower body temperatures are associated with sleep onset. So right timing of exercise can lead to a good night’s sleep.
The same also goes for sleep. Aside from timing, the duration and quality of sleep matters for a lot of aspects such as release of growth hormones, functional immunity and cognitive function.
Sleep has a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting plenty of quality sleep at night can help protect your overall wellness. It can affect how well you think, react, work, learn and deal with other people.
Your body rejuvenates itself while you sleep. So how you feel during your waking hours depends on the quality of your sleep. If your sleep is poor regularly, it can raise your risk for some chronic health problems.
Lack of sleep has a toll on perception and judgment. At work, you may be less efficient and productive and make more errors and increase accident risk. Worse, it can be deadly, such as in a case of drowsy driving accidents.
Another thing is that when you get insufficient sleep, it leads you to eat more than what you actually need. This is what the director of CU-Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory Kenneth Wright says regarding his study along with his colleagues.
The researchers monitored 16 young, lean, healthy adults who spent about 2 weeks at the University of Colorado Hospital, which is equipped with a “sleep suite” to provide a quiet environment and regulated lights.
The participants were separated into 2 groups: five hours of sleep group and 9 hours of sleep group. Both groups were offered larger meals and had access to snack options throughout the day ranging from fruits to potato chips. Results show that those who slept for fewer hours had a tendency to eat smaller breakfasts but binge on after-dinner snacks.
Combining healthy sleep patterns with regular exercise and good nutrition makes you feel good and can help fight obesity and diseases.
Picture this. It’s time for lunch and you’ve been working since sunrise. When those hunger cravings strike, probably the most appealing option would be a convenient but greasy burger with large fries and a coke. And that’s how you welcome those excessive calories with arms wide open.
Unhealthy lunch options may be easier to have if you’re time-poor. For busy people in the middle of a busy workday, it is efficient. You might save 10 minutes for your meal but eventually, you’ll pay for it with weaker performance for the rest of the day. (Needless to say weight gain as well?)
Eating well benefits you in a lot of ways. For instance, upping your fruit and vegetable intake may help reduce cancer risk and help strengthen your immune system. Eating balanced meals and healthy snacks at regular time intervals can help keep you stay energised throughout the day. Eating the right foods can improve your sleep. Eating only when you’re hungry and stopping once you’re satisfied keeps your blood sugar and energy at their right levels, which promotes positive mood and clear thinking.
Don’t Forget About Balance
Optimal health happens if there is a balance between these lifestyle factors. Too much or too little of any of these elements and your health can mess up.
And at the end of the day, we learn that health is complex. Maybe you’re eating healthy, but you’re not getting enough sleep. Maybe you’re getting enough sleep and eating healthy but you don’t have time to exercise. Optimal health doesn’t run by a single factor alone. It needs a combination of exercise, sleep and nutrition – in balance and with the right timing.
If you need help with lifestyle choices, get in touch with the experts on 9272 7359! We’re here to help you.
Dr Nicky Keay. Lifestyle Choices for optimising health: exercise, nutrition, sleep. BMJ Blog. November 2017.
Beer NJ, Dimmock JA, Jackson B, Guelfi KJ. Proving choice in exercise influences food intake at the subsequent meal. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017;49(10):2110–2118.
University of Colorado Boulder (2013, March 11) Less sleep leads to more eating and more weight gain.