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The big 3 of wellbeing: Food, exercise and a good night’s sleep

Do you ever wake up feeling more exhausted than when you went to bed? Too tired to prepare a nutritious meal? Too tired to get out of the house and exercise? Just to repeat this cycle the next day? This can sometimes feel like a never-ending exhausting cycle. But there are a few handy tips on how to combat this cycle once and for all.

Diet, exercise, and sleep are all important for our overall wellbeing and are all closely interlinked. Nutrition fuels our exercise and can influence our sleep. Exercise is important for our overall health and wellbeing and can help us have a restful night’s sleep. This is important as our sleep quality can affect our food choices and our motivation to exercise and prepare meals. Making small changes to suit your lifestyle in any of these three areas can help you improve your wellbeing. And maybe even help end this cycle of tiredness.

Wellbeing Food, exercise and sleep
Food, exercise and a good night’s sleep - the big 3 of wellbeing

A balanced diet

Our diet is important for so many different aspects of life. Diet is not only key in preventing diseases such as obesity, heart diseases and type 2 diabetes, it is also important for optimising our mental and social health and wellbeing. This is why fueling our bodies with the right foods is essential. This can be achieved by maintaining a balanced diet. Balanced diets allow us to enjoy a wide range of delicious foods that are packed with all the important nutrients, as well as being able to enjoy those comfort foods every once in a while.

A balanced diet can ensure that you are meeting your recommended daily intake for all the important nutrients required to function. This includes getting a good night’s sleep and optimising your energy and strength to take part in exercise, therefore improving your overall wellbeing.

Foods to include

Foods that can be eaten regularly include veggies, legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu), fruit, wholegrains (e.g. bread, quinoa, couscous, pasta) and water.

Other foods important in a balanced diet include lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat options of milk, yoghurt and cheese.

Foods to limit

Foods that can be included but in small amounts are those that are high in saturated fat like biscuits, cakes and chips, foods and drinks containing added salt and added sugars and alcohol. Totally restricting these comfort foods, however, may negatively affect your mental wellbeing, so it is ok to include these occasionally and in small amounts.

Diet, exercise and sleep

Diet and Sleep

Sleep has several roles in improving wellbeing.

These include:

  • Improving mood

  • Managing stress

  • Thinking clearly

  • Feeling energised

  • Strengthening immunity

Getting enough sleep and helping to optimise it with a balanced diet can help to promote our overall wellbeing.

While there are many other factors that can impact sleep, our diet is one where we can make some easy changes. Alcoholic drinks and caffeine drinks like coffee, tea, energy drinks and soft drinks are those most known to impact sleep. If you do choose to consume these, they are best enjoyed earlier in the day to prevent any effects on sleep. Diets high in calories and saturated fat have also been seen to contribute to poor sleep.

On the other hand, not getting enough sleep has been linked with poorer food intake. It has been linked to being more likely to increase their food consumption and tending to select high-calorie foods that are less nutritious. This is due to hunger hormones that can be affected by sleep deprivation. Ensuring we stay consistent with our sleep cycle will help minimise compromising these hormones.

Read more about Diet and Sleep here

Diet and Exercise

Exercising has many positive effects on health as well. It can improve physical aspects like high blood pressure.  It can also support our mental health by releasing hormones that help to reduce anxiety. For extra motivation, exercising with friends or family can also improve your social, mental and physical wellbeing.

The foods we eat fuel our exercise, so if we are not putting the right food into our bodies, it may feel like more of an effort. Wholegrains and protein rich foods such as lean meats, nuts and legumes, are the most important in supporting exercise. Wholegrains have a low glycaemic index (GI), which allows us to sustain our energy for a longer period, while protein-rich foods enable our muscles to build and maintain their strength to be able to exercise.  However, eating too close to high intensity exercise may increase risk of nausea, making exercise uncomfortable. Therefore, the timing and the types of food we eat before exercise is important to consider, to optimise the activity.  Reach out to a Dietitian for support with this.

Sleep and Exercise

Another benefit of sleep is allowing your body to rest and give your muscles time to recover. This helps prevents the risk of injuries to promote exercise and improve your overall wellbeing. Not having enough sleep may also impact your motivation to exercise if you’re feeling tired.

Exercise has also been seen to work the other way to improve sleep. Its mood and mental health boosting effects can help to maximise sleep. Any type of exercise such as cardio, running, and resistance exercise have been seen to improve sleep quality. However, exercising too close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Handy tips to improve your wellbeing

To help combat the never-ending cycle of tiredness, here are some tips that you might find helpful to feel more rested and energised:

  • Pre-cook meals to store in the freezer for those days that you feel too tired to cook.

  • Be prepared! Plan your meals and do your grocery shopping for an entire week to save time for exercise and sleep.

  • Don’t eat too soon before bed, give yourself time to digest your last meal of the day.

  • If you do choose to consume, have your caffeinated or alcoholic drinks earlier in the day.

  • Try to avoid exercising too close to bedtime (1-2 hours before bed), give your body a couple hours to wind down before you sleep.

Don’t sleep on it, reach out to our helpful team!

Diet, exercise and sleep are all key to optimising our overall wellbeing. However, making changes is different for everyone. For further, more personalised advice about how you can improve your wellbeing through your diet, reach out to our OSCAR Care Group Dietitians.


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