Is your baby keeping you awake at night? Do you usually get just a few hours of sleep every night and then have to rush through the day with your energy tank empty?
Sleep deprivation occurs often in parents with young babies, so don’t beat yourself up just yet. There are ways to overcome the lack of sleep - and one of them is by making sure that you get enough energy from eating a healthy diet.
When you have a child that keeps you awake at night, your biological clock is turned upside down. And because your energy levels are at an all time low, you might find yourself craving for sweets, coffee, or greasy meals - which is not always the healthiest solution to beat sleep deprivation.
Understanding the reasons behind your cravings can tell you a lot about how you can overcome them.
1. Understanding the effects of lack of sleep on your body
Ghrelin is a gut hormone produced when we are sleep deprived. Ghrelin tells your brain you are hungry and asks for sugary foods, because they provide the most energy in the shortest amount of time.
So, even if you are not a sweet tooth person, you might find yourself craving chocolate all the time. That’s ghrelin.
To counteract the effects of ghrelin, start with an energy boosting breakfast that is both healthy and provides your body with the healthy fats it needs to function properly.
Breakfast ideas to kickstart your day:
- Eggs with spinach
- A bowl of porridge with chia seeds and walnuts with milk or yoghurt
- Porridge with pears and honey
All these foods will make you feel full for longer. Healthy foods are not only good for you, but or your entire family: they can help you boost your immune system, balance your energy levels and keep you healthy and in shipshape.
2. Drink more water
Lack of water in your body can make you feel tired and sleepy. Plus, by the time your body tells you you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
So make sure you drink plenty of water, especially during the hot seasons, when it is imperative that you stay hydrated.
Tip: You can make water taste better just by adding fresh fruits to it. Try adding fruit slices and fresh herbs such as mint, lime, oranges, or even strawberries or blueberries.
3. Cut back on coffee and chocolate
As you are reading this, you are probably thinking you’d never give up coffee or chocolate when sleep deprived. However, even if you are not giving them up, try to reduce them. Here’s why...
Both coffee and chocolate are stimulants that activate your brain’s “fight-or-fly” response. In other words, they keep you active for a while by increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, but by the time their effect is gone, your body is left more depleted than before.
4. Replace coffee with green tea
You’ve had your morning coffee, but by lunchtime you feel like having another one?
Green tea is a great antioxidant and it also has some caffeine, just enough to give you the energy boost your body is requesting. Instead of reaching for the second or third coffee, try having a cup of green tea as a replacement.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that both green tea and coffee can negatively influence the quality of your sleep at night, therefore try not to consume them after three or four o’clock.
5. Eat more nuts
As a parent, you probably find yourself skipping meals because you are on the run all day long or trying to feed a fussy eater. Nuts are conveniently packed in bags now so you can take them with you wherever you go, ensuring that - even if you don’t have a full meal - you are still eating something and giving your body the nutrients it needs.
Nuts that are good for your body:
6. Fresh fruits are excellent energy boosters
They also provide you with the level of sugar your body requires and are full of vitamins. You can have any kind of fruits you want, but if you are looking for something to keep you fuller for longer, then search for fruits that are rich in fibre. Pears are a great choice, as they balance your blood sugar levels and are full of fibre.
Tip: Avoid eating dried fruits because their sugar levels are very high.
7. Carbohydrates are good for you (in normal amounts)
Carbs team up with your brain to produce serotonin, the “feel good” happy hormone. In addition, carbs are also responsible for ensuring that you have a good night’s sleep.
Your brain requires carbs to function properly, but there are some diets nowadays that don’t do carbs any justice. For a balanced diet, include carbs in your dinner, which can give you a better night’s sleep.
Carbs to have for dinner:
- A bowl of rice
- Sweet potato
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