Work stress leads to bad sleep. And bad sleep saps your willpower and leads to poor food choices at night. Here's how to break the cycle.
Poor Sleep Makes You a Chubby Jackass
We know a few things about not getting enough sleep:
- It can make you gain fat. Multiple studies have shown that poor sleep patterns are associated with fat gain, for a host of physiological and psychological reasons. Other studies have shown that when sleep improves, even by just adding one extra hour of sleep per night, sugar cravings fade away.
- It can wreck your mind. Lack of sleep interferes with decision making, exacerbates feelings of depression and anxiety, and can even cause men think they look good in joggers (probably).
- It can make act like a jackass. Or even more of a jackass if you're already a jackass... you jackass.
Prescription sleep drugs are passed out like candy by some doctors, but the side effects can be harsh. Plus, sleep drugs don't address what actually causes crappy sleep for many people: stress.
Stress, Sleep, and Willpower
In a recent study, researchers took a look at work stress and nighttime overeating. Choosing unhealthy foods and overeating at night is common, and it's usually linked to two things:
- Delicious, waist-widening foods are comforting. They can soothe stress, or at least mask stress temporarily.
- The willpower well has run dry. Think about it like this: When you wake up from a good night's sleep, you're given a tall glass of willpower. You sip it all day long to help you make good decisions about food, exercise, and how to deal with that dildo who cut you off in traffic.
But work stress and life stress can quickly evaporate your glass of willpower. By the time you come home you're out of willpower juice, which makes it easy to nosh on fattening foods. And if you had a poor night of sleep the night before, then you started the day with a half-empty glass.
In the study, the researchers looked at people with high-stress jobs: information-technology employees with high workloads, and call-center workers who had to deal with irate people on the phone all day.
Sure enough, that pissy work mood rode home with them in the passenger seat, and they overate in the evening. However, when the workers had good sleep the night before, they experienced less stress at work and didn't overeat in the evening.
So, better sleep leads to less stress, and less stress leads to greater willpower, and greater willpower leads to better nutrition choices.
Supplements That Work
Since prescription sleep drugs usually don't address the problem of stress, we have to look for sleep aides that do.
PhGABA is one good choice. It's a derivative of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. When you're stressed out, your brain experiences an uninterrupted flow of stimulatory neurotransmitters, causing restlessness and grouchiness. GABA and PhGABA inhibit the flow of these stimulatory neurotransmitters, allowing you to cool your tits. Think of PhGABA as a relaxation supplement.
5-HTP is another good choice. It's a natural precursor to serotonin, which is implicated in sleep and general feelings of well-being. 5-HTP also helps your body adapt better to stress. It can be used with PhGABA to keep you from developing a tolerance.
Another good one is L-Theanine, which promotes brain alpha-wave function, facilitating a calm, relaxed mental state.
For convenience, and to get the right ratios of each, you can get all three of these stress-reducers in one formula: Biotest's Z-12™.
- Yihao Liu, Yifan Song, Jaclyn Koopmann, Mo Wang, Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang, Junqi Shi. Eating Your Feelings? Testing a Model of Employees’ Work-Related Stressors, Sleep Quality, and Unhealthy Eating. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2017.