How To Wake Up After a Bad Night's Sleep

Every notice how much you want sugar and donuts and carbs and bagels on a morning after a bad night? Your body is smart in knowing that it needs something easily compensate for the lack of zzzs. Bedtime Network Coach and Nutritionist Gayle Reichler can tell you why, but she can also help you smoothe things out so that you don't do yourself and/or your waistline any more harm and, so that your next night is a good one.

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We spend a lot of time finding better ways to get to sleep, so I thought in this article I would share some pointers about how to take care of yourself the day after a bad night's sleep.  Whether it is the time change, change of seasons, jet lag, or change of life, there are factors outside of our control that can affect sleep no matter what you do. But, you can help your body the next day by making wise food choices.

When our bodies are sleep deprived, we tend to crave simple carbohydrate foods like toast, muffins, pancakes, danish, and bagels. Why? Because our bodies are smart… carbohydrate foods are easiest for our bodies to digest and therefore, provide the quickest fuel.  This is why you will often want to eat bready, sweet treats when tired. Plus, there is the psychological comfort factor of wanting a treat when you don’t feel so great and often, comfort foods are rich in simple carbohydrates.  But the irony is that the carbohydrate rich foods we crave when we are tired are exactly what will make us feel even more lethargic.  The foods that fall into simple carbohydrates are those that are high in sugar: juices, and processed flours like sweetened cereal, cookies, cakes and ice cream.

So, what should you eat to wake up? Protein rich foods with vegetables!  Protein stimulates your brain and helps you to stay sharp during the day.  Protein rich foods are those that come from animal sources or vegetable sources of protein. Below is a list of lean, protein rich food ideas:

  • Chicken breast
  • Pork Loin
  • Fish or Shellfish
  • Beans
  • Soy protein, i.e., veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs
  • Eggs
  • Very lean beef, flank steak
  • Veal loin

Try to avoid eating a lot of bread when you are tired (like large sandwich rolls) and opt for sandwich bread instead. Also avoid dairy as it will promote a more sedative-like effect on your brain.  

Another way to help your body wake up is through exercise (note:this can be as simple as doing some light stretches and taking a walk.)  Aerobic exercise gets your blood circulating, moving your blood sugar to your brain while also waking up your body.  And, if you exercise it will help you sleep better that night, which is the ultimate goal after all.

Have a good night and don't forget to eat right!