I found a great resource that I am thrilled to pass on to all of my athletes. Tuck Sleep is a excellent group of professionals who are dedicated to improving sleep hygiene, health, and wellness through the creation of comprehensive, unbiased, free resources. They have put together the largest collection of data on sleep surfaces on the web (Yay data!)
Here is what they have found in connecting proper sleep and healthy weight management:
Sleep deprivation affects four primary hormones related to weight gain.
Ghrelin, nicknamed the hunger hormone, tells your brain when it’s hungry and it should eat.
Leptin, nicknamed the satiety hormone, tells your brain when it’s full.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that activates upon waking and conserves energy as fat reserves to use as fuel during your day.
Insulin is a peptide hormone that regulates your body’s ability to process food into energy.
Sleep deprivation increases your ghrelin production and reduces your leptin production, so your brain thinks it’s hungrier more often, and is less able to recognize when it’s full. Sleep deprivation also affects your body’s ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates. As a result, you’ll experience higher blood sugar levels, leading to increased insulin and cortisol production. As your insulin resistance grows, your body doesn’t process fat and sugars as well, instead storing more of it as fat, resulting in weight gain.
Speaking of food… foods rich in tryptophan, carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, melatonin and vitamin B6 can all help promote quality sleep. Such foods are nuts (especially walnuts, almonds and pistachios), fish (especially salmon, tuna and halibut), beans, rice (especially Jasmine), breads, pasta, potatoes, kale and other leafy greens, cherries, bananas, oats, whole grains (especially bulgur and barley), tomatoes, raw garlic, and chickpeas.
Tart Cherry Juice is becoming more popular and Tuck Sleep is recommending it too to help you sleep:
Besides melatonin, tart cherry juice is also rich in procyanidins and anthocyanins. These chemicals, also found in blueberries, have antiinflammatory properties that can interfere with sleep.
The participants who drank tart cherry juice also showed lower levels of kynurenine in their blood, which has been linked to sleep deprivation in depressed patients.
It may also have something to do with how the cherries affect tryptophan, an amino acid involved in serotonin and melatonin production. The researchers hypothesized that other compounds in the cherries prevent tryptophan from fully breaking down, so it can do its job better.
They go on to describe these foods in better detail and how they work in the body, but I'll let you read for your self, just follow the links below.