Diet, Exercise and Sleep

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healthy helping of the right stuff

Are you someone who needs a fresh cup of java to coax you out of bed in the morning? Or perhaps you prefer an afternoon jolt from the cola vending machine? Or maybe you’re more the candy bar type – in any case, you’re not alone. In a 24/7 culture, cups of coffee, cans of soda and candy bars are staples of everyday consumers. For some, the day can’t begin without a cup of Starbucks and for many students today no study break is complete without a can of Coke. How did caffeine become the drug (and food) of choice?

In fact, lack of sleep creates a vicious cycle – the more tired you are, the more caffeine you’ll consume to stay awake during the day; but the more caffeine you consume, the harder it’ll be to fall asleep at night. Not only are foods and drinks high in caffeine likely to keep you up at night, but they’re also usually replete with sugar or artificial sugar and not much else. When a healthy snack such as a carrot or granola bar is replaced with a can of Mountain Dew, you’re at higher risk for putting on weight and it becomes harder to sustain energy for a longer period of time.

For those individuals who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux ( GERD), commonly known as acid reflux, diet and sleep go hand-in-hand. Those individuals with GERD often suffer from nighttime heartburn, and according to NSF’s 2001 Sleep in America poll, adults in America who experience nighttime heartburn are more likely to report having symptoms of sleep problems/disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, daytime sleepiness and restless legs syndrome than those who don’t have nighttime heartburn.

Food is also related to sleep by appetite and metabolism. Research by Dr. Van Cauter shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase. This link between appetite and sleep provides further evidence that