Your alarm goes off ...and you get out of bed, annoyed that you couldn’t sleep for another hour or two.  You feel tired - exhausted even - and just want to get through the day.  You crave something sweet or some carbs - a biscuit and some coffee will surely give you the energy to make it through the morning...

Most of us are sleep deprived.  Very few people actually get the quality sleep that they should be getting and are able to sleep the number of hours that they need to.  In fact, our society seems to celebrate and praise those who can get by on just 5/6 hours sleep.  Sacrificing sleep in order to "get things done" is often seen as a mark of success.  So sleep very often falls to the bottom of our priority list... it is sometimes even seen as a waste of time...and yet getting enough sleep is so important for our mental, physical and emotional health. 

Not getting enough sleep will negatively affect your mood and mental health, will make you less able to cope with stressors but it will also affect your ability to make good food choices.  Have you noticed that when you are tired, you snack more and need to reach for more sugar/carbs just to get you through the day?  Many studies have demonstrated that inadequate and poor-quality sleep can lead to an increased risk of obesity. Insufficient sleep has been linked to individuals being more prone to making bad food choices (including consuming excess carbohydrates and fats), increased energy intake, increased snacking and a lower metabolism.

Making sure you are getting enough sleep is in fact the most important first step in making any sort of changes to your behaviours or lifestyle.  Your willpower is much stronger and ability to make good choices for your health is much better, when you have had a good night's sleep.  Whether you are looking to give up smoking, eat more healthy food, exercise more or drink less - you are much more likely to be able to stick to your new goals if you are well rested.

So when you are frantically looking for the next diet or meal plan that might be the best weight-loss solution or the next thing you can try to finally give up smoking - maybe the first thing you should ask yourself is whether you are getting enough sleep.  Prioritising sleep is likely to lead to better food choices, improved willpower to stick to healthy habits and an improved metabolism.  I guess there is a reason we call it “beauty sleep” - it really can improve the way you look and feel significantly!