Need to work through very little sleep for weeks on end? Kripa Kataria tells you what you need to eat to liven up and sustain yourself through the day!
No one wants to bring their work home, but we know that sometimes it is unavoidable. You end up working for over 12 hours a day, and this can affect your sleep as well as your health. Now, don’t get us wrong; we don’t advocate sleeping for an inadequate number of hours every night just because (you think) you can offset it with the way you eat. This is a temporary fix, for when you absolutely have to work long hours. Read on to find out how you can use dietary tricks to keep burning the midnight oil.
Drink more water
If you are dehydrated, you won’t be able to work for long hours. Holistic nutritionist Monisha Joukani says, “It is essential to drink lots of water. Not only will it prevent dehydration, it will also help you to remain awake and alert.”
Fish such as salmon, pilchards, kippers, sardines and tuna are a wonderful source of polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as protein. These macronutrients leave us feeling full all day long, which in turn will keep you from choosing sugary foods such as biscuits and cake to satiate your hunger pangs. While protein has a great satiety effect, the good fats help your central nervous system.
Nuts are an excellent snack option when you’re feeling fatigued. Snacking on nuts at work means you are less likely to feel the urge to raid the company cafeteria for the last slice of cake. Nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which help regulate your appetite.
When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain does not function properly. This affects your cognitive abilities and emotional state. If this continues over a long period, it can lower your body’s defences, putting you at risk of developing illnesses. When you’re sleeping, your immune system produces protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies. Depriving yourself of sleep means that you’re not giving your immune system a chance to build its protective walls high enough. “Citrus fruits are also a great option. These fruits are high in vitamin C, so eating them helps boost your immunity, increases the amount of energy in you system and improves alertness,” says Namrata Purohit, certified Pilates and Barre instructor.
“It has been suggested in several research studies that good vitamin D levels help keep you alert, so try and get some sunlight during the day. Good vitamin D levels also help boost immunity,” Monisha explains. Apart from natural ways to build vitamin D levels (such as getting enough morning sun), eggs are a convenient source of get vitamin D. Since the vitamin D in eggs comes from the yolk, it’s important to use the whole egg and not just the whites.
Green tea is infused with plant-based nutrients called polyphenols, which cleanse the body from within. The slow release of caffeine that takes place when you drink tea is better for your body than a cup of coffee, which can eventually lead to a crash. Green tea also contains catechin, which helps to reduce fatigue and improve cognitive functions such as concentration and memory.
Don’t skip meals
Being irritable and disturbed is one of the most common signs that you’re getting less sleep. As a result, you may not be able to maintain relationships with people, which can cause you more stress. “Sometimes, when we are extremely sleepy or tired and working hard at the same time, we forget about food or skip meals. This will only make things worse, as no sleep and no food is a bad combination. It can make you feel irritable and cranky,” Namrata says. “What you eat, how you eat it and what time you eat are very important. Eat healthy snacks every two to three hours — you can have sprouts, walnuts and fruits, which will provide you with glucose. Every time your glucose level falls, your body slows down, which makes you feel tired, irritated and hungry,” adds fitness trainer Vinod Channa.
Sleep deprivation increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Compounding this effect, a lack of sleep lowers your levels of a hormone called leptin, which tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Monisha tells us, “Avoid eating large meals and junk food. Meals that are high in carbohydrates tend to make you feel drowsy. Avoid drinking too much coffee, which people tend to do with increasing work pressure; it will make you more sluggish in the long run.”