[AD] This post is for a paid partnership.
What you eat, exercise and sleep are linked like the patchwork on a blanket. These seemingly separate elements are intertwined, creating a fabric that plays a pivotal role in our lives.
The expression “you are what you eat” is apt, but there is more to it than that. Diet, exercise, and sleep affect one another intimately.
For example, sugary foods fuel an intense workout but can also keep you up at night, and poor sleep then affects your training the next day.
The connection between diet, exercise, and sleep is well-known:
Diet fuels you > exercise builds you > sleep heals you.
Rinse and repeat this, and you have the basic building blocks of life. But how are they linked, and what does this mean for your lifestyle?
The three pillars of survival
You need food to survive, and you need sleep to survive. Without these two elements, your health will decline, and you will eventually die.
Diet and nutrition affect every aspect of our health. From our bones and muscles to immunity, what we eat impacts us.
In the short term, poor nutrition contributes to tiredness and our capacity to work, making us feel more tired and less able to do things.
In the long term, poor nutrition increases the risks of illnesses and health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Diet affects sleep because it affects our health. It is easier to sleep when we have all the nutrients to support our bodies.
We have all felt the effects of a poor night’s sleep. Just one poor night’s sleep makes us groggy, lethargic, and irritable.
When sleep deprivation is long-term, it increases the risk of health problems, exceptionally high blood pressure, heart problems, and obesity.
Poor sleep affects our diet because it leads to bad diet choices. In our quest to refuel our spent energy reserves, when we are tired, we often reach for sugary snacks and drinks that are very low in nutrition and bad for us.
Most binge eating happens when sleep deprived because it is harder to eat healthily and restrict calorie intake when tired.
It would help if you had an exercise to maintain a healthy body and mind. A lack of exercise increases health risks, from coronary heart disease and obesity to stiff joints.
Without exercise, you become weaker. Your ability to function is reduced, impacting how you live reducing your quality of life.
Additionally, stopping exercise can increase depression, and no training is linked to anxiety and increasing stress levels.
With depression/anxiety, you may want to sleep more and exercise less, and you are more likely to consume unhealthy foods and drinks for comfort.
Which is most important: diet, exercise, or sleep?
We need all three to stay healthy, which is most important to our basic survival. Sleep comes first. While we can survive up to two months on only water, we can only survive around eleven days without sleep.
Exercise is the weak link in terms of basic survival, but the long-term effects of a lack of exercise are significant. Your muscles waste away, your bones become less dense, and you are more likely to suffer from illness.
Improving sleep through diet and exercise
You can improve your sleep through diet and exercise simply by eating the right things and moving more. That’s all there is to it.
Unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, oats, eggs, milk, and meats low in saturated fat are ideal for nutrition.
Drinking water is always better than consuming fizzy drinks, and you should avoid caffeine at least six hours before going to bed.
In terms of exercise, adults should perform strength training at least two days a week, with three days of mild exercise like walking.
You don’t need a gym membership to exercise, and you can work out at home or anywhere you are comfortable. Just make sure not to overtrain.
Until next time.