On my way into work the other day, I was listening to Virgin Radio. Ryan Seacrest was on air and told listeners to stay tuned to hear about this new diet, the one he was talking about was the Sleep Diet. In my 14 years of combined academic and work experience in the field of kinesiology and fitness consulting I have not once come across this diet. The segment did not air while I was in the car and when I arrived at work I immediately looked up the ‘Sleep Diet’. The earliest result returned in my google search showed articles from 2013. The News tab returned results showing mainstream media sources, Fox news, Huff Post, The Daily Meal, reporting on the ‘Sleep Diet’.
The news articles are based off a peer reviewed study published in the Lancet that looks at the impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. The researchers used 11 young male participants (small sample size, all male) and measured them after six days of sleep debt, four hours of sleep a night. They measured the same group after a sleep recovery period where they slept for 12 hours a night. Their findings suggest that sleep deprivation is harmful to carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. They believe this may increase the severity of age related chronic disorders.
Sleep is the foundation to not only mental but physical recovery. The regenerative properties of adequate sleep are well documented. Getting enough sleep is easier said than done. Work, school, children, pets, travel all play a part in the length and the quality of sleep you may get each night.
The ‘sleep diet’ is not a diet in the sense of the word. We associate diet with caloric restriction to food intake, which is my issue with the term. The health/wellness/fitness field use buzz words to market things in a new way to catch people’s interest. Let’s just call it what it is SLEEP!
Making it a ‘diet’ can add negative connotation to something that we should enjoy and make us feel energized after doing it. Food diets have low long term adherence rates and we don’t want to affiliate it with sleep, everyone needs to sleep. From a research perspective, it is very interesting to see the effects of sleep on physiological functions that affect health and wellness. What you need to know is common sense not a catchy buzzword. Sleep is great for everyone.