Mikkipedia is an exploration in all things health, well being, fitness, food and nutrition. I sit down with scientists, doctors, professors, practitioners and people who have a wealth of experience and have a conversation that takes a deep dive into their area of expertise. I love translating science into a language that people understand, so while some of the conversations will be pretty in-depth, you will come away with some practical tips that can be instigated into your everyday life. I hope you enjoy the show!
Hey everyone, Mikki here. You're listening to Mini Mikkipedia on a Monday. And this Monday I want to talk about what to do the night after a poor night's sleep. And I know that there are likely many of you out there that have more than just one bad night's sleep. Parents, shift workers, people who are on call, etc. There are a bunch of others like me who generally sleep pretty well.
and sleep has always been something which probably up until the last six or seven years has always been a little bit iffy for me. But generally speaking now I sleep pretty well but there are just some nights where either by circumstance or for no reason at all you have a rubbish night's sleep. If that's the case then it's good to be mindful of some tactics to get you
a good rhythm with regards to actually getting a good night's sleep the next night. Now, there is some evidence to suggest that you can make up a little bit of sleep debt. Certainly though, to make it up on the next night is likely impossible just in terms of life like you're not going to probably find an additional four hours the night after a poor night's sleep, particularly if it's in the middle of the week.
But equally that might not be the best idea either, because you do run the risk of sort of throwing off your circadian rhythm. And importantly, one of the important things I've learned at least over the last 10 years is that a sleep routine is critical to sort of optimizing sleep. And the routine around...
sleep shouldn't necessarily be or shouldn't be that you get four hours sleep one night, 12 hours the next, and on average that's eight hours a night, right? So, um, but making up that sleep debt a little bit with an additional hour or half hour over a couple of nights is not the worst idea in the world actually, because you can still maintain a good routine around going to bed at the same time and getting up around the same time and be able to sort of,
sleep debt that you've sort of got yourself into. And you know, one night sleep deprivation is not going to kill you, obviously. However, interesting when you look at the research around sleep, one night sleep restriction, and that really is less than six hours night sleep is how you'll find it defined in the literature. It does still have consequences both physiologically and
One of the important things and the things that I talk to people about a lot is that change in blood sugar regulation. And in fact, a lot of your behavior the next day can be determined by this. So sleep restriction is one of the known factors to disrupt blood sugar regulation. And you wake up being more insulin resistant than you would be otherwise. And insulin resistance is when...
it requires more of that hormone insulin, which is a nutrient storage hormone, to deliver carbohydrates to where they're required in the body. Not just carbohydrate though, as a nutrient storage hormone, it will also deliver fatty acids to the fat cells as well, unless of course you're using them for energy. If you usually have good sugar control and then you have a bad night's sleep, you can see that on a continuous glucose monitor if you are measuring it. And it does...
have implications for that next 24 hours or next time until you are able to get to bed and have a decent night's sleep. Because you're more insulin resistant, you are not going to be able to utilize carbohydrate as effectively for energy and you're not able to deliver it or dispose of it in the same way. So therefore, you're likely to have elevated blood sugar levels.
And this is going to affect mood, it's going to affect appetite, it's going to affect the types of foods that you crave. Because of course, as soon as you have this blood sugar disruption, where there are peaks and troughs in your blood sugar, and the troughs come after a peak of blood sugar that occurs if you give into some of those cravings, then you're going to continually be fighting this roller coaster of blood sugar for.
for all of the day and think about it as you get up out of bed after a poor night's sleep. So some people feel a little bit nauseous after not sleeping well, yet some people have a rampant appetite and they find it hard to get under control, particularly when you wake up and your blood sugar is all over the show. The only thing that you really feel like is carbs and typically naked carbs as well. And what I mean by naked carbs is
you know, just a full on like bagel or I would say croissant, but there is fat in there, toast, cereal, something that's going to boost you and give you energy because that's the other thought process going on in your mind is you haven't had good sleep, you're going to need good energy. But what we consider as quote unquote good energy is not necessarily going to be good for you.
regulation or dysregulation cause the change in the types of foods that we crave, we also crave more of them and our feedback reward centre of the brain is enhanced. Which means not only do we crave more of these foods, we get more pleasure from them when we eat them, which of course is going to make us want to eat them more. The other thing that is common with sleep deprivation is of course we jump on the coffee.
Of course, this is if you are a coffee drinker, but I mean, coffee is a known stimulant, so it does help keep us alert, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but we tend to over-rely on it when we are tired. And so that crashing blood sugar can also lead to increased coffee cravings. Now coffee in of itself can disrupt blood sugar. Not in everyone, but it can.
cause changes in our stress hormones that will then impact on insulin and blood glucose control. So if you are relying on black coffee and not necessarily food to get you through the morning, that is also going to cause more of a crash later on. I mentioned the circadian rhythm and how a poor night of sleep can disrupt these hormonal changes. Yet everything does run on a normal circadian rhythm and we generally have less stress.
of or less energy if you like a little dip in our energy mid-afternoon which is one of the reasons why we crave sugar and in foods to bring up our energy mid-afternoon if you don't control your blood sugar well. This is obviously exacerbated after a poor night's sleep and after multiple drinks of coffee. I probably think it goes without saying that you're a little bit less coordinated and more prone to injury and accident after a poor night's sleep.
you know, banging into doors, not seeing things properly, tripping over things. There is an increase in car accidents when people drive after a poor night's sleep. It's a little bit akin to drunk driving actually. And our memories aren't great. We experience more brain fog. There's less of that memory consolidation because during sleep, we go through different sleep stages and
there may well be less of that rapid eye movement or REM sleep, or it's disrupted. So we're unable to consolidate those memories and remember things as well if we are sleep deprived. Because our energy is lower, we're less likely to be active after a night of poor sleep. So that's one other thing which then therefore sort of affects our mood and affects our overall energy. Our emotions are enhanced, so.
we feel a little bit more irritated than normal, a little bit more angry than normal, or a little bit like more joyful and happy than normal. You know, depending on how you feel generally, you're gonna get an enhancement of that emotional regulation. So oftentimes things are super funny when you are tired, which wouldn't necessarily make you laugh as much when you have an adequate night's sleep, for example. So these are all the things that I think about with sleep restriction, and particularly because
on Monday night of last week, we got on a Tuesday morning, I'm sorry, we got home after being in Byron Bay at about 2.30 in the morning and we were in bed, ready to go to sleep at probably about three o'clock and the alarm was going at 6.30. So we set the alarm for later than normal, but still that was only three and a half hours sleep. And this is of course on the back of being in Australia just long enough to adapt to that last
that sort of change in time zone. It's only two hours, but it can definitely make a difference. So we were coming into Tuesday fresh off three and a half hours sleep, really just trying to get through the day. So if you can't rely on sugar and coffee to get you through, and when I say can't, I don't mean you can't, I mean, if that's not the best approach, then what should you do? So my first suggestion is, and this is what I did, is continue to take your creatine.
And I say continue because you guys know how I feel about creatine. For most people, it's a good option. The people who don't benefit are those who might see an acute sort of change in water retention, and there are people that experience that. And the only thing that actually reduces that is in fact, if they come off a high dose or anything like that, but regardless, creatine is known to take space in the brain that would otherwise be taken by the adenosine receptor. And.
The adenosine is something which helps calm us down and relax us. And so if you've got a component there that takes the place of the adenosine on the receptor, we don't have that relaxed feeling. And so we stay more alert. So we know that creatine can help with that. And so for anyone who is sleep deprived, shift workers, parents, etc., taking creatine is a good option and it's a good option after a night of sleep restriction. So it just helps keep your brain more alert. And of course,
Coffee is great, like a cup of coffee is no problem at all. But what you don't wanna do is get to that wired and tired feeling because you can get anxious and you can get jittery and have those blood sugar regulation swings with too much caffeine. So if you are going to have coffee, then I suggest just a single coffee or have a decaf or do the 50-50. So you can get more of that.
Ritual around coffee, but less of the caffeine. And try to stick to coffee before say 10 or 11 a.m. in the morning, because everyone is different with the way that they metabolize it, and coffee can stay up in your system for six, it's got a half-life of about six hours. So if you're someone who is a little bit sensitive to caffeine, that means that it's going to spend longer in your system. Of course, if you are a fast metabolizer of coffee,
that timing of it may not necessarily be as important as we know. The third thing to do is not necessarily just worry about sugar, but worry about carbs in general. And not worry, what I mean to say is be considerate of carbs a night of, after a night of sleep restriction. Because you are more insulin resistant, your body can't dispose of those carbohydrates more as readily as normal. Therefore, you do run the risk of those elevated blood sugars,
can cause all of the issues that I talked about earlier on. So you certainly do not want any naked carbs and actually you might just wanna get rid of all those overt carbs in your diet for this day. So switch out that cereal for eggs or a protein smoothie. Don't have a sandwich, instead have a salad or have a smaller amount of like a small amount of potato or Kermita with your lunch for example. But certainly,
include that protein which we know can stabilize blood sugar and keep energy a lot more even. Don't have fruit as a snack so nothing where it's just carbohydrate and if you do snack, which for most of us we shouldn't really need to snack, but if you do make it a protein oriented snack that is not going to impact negatively on your blood sugar levels. Get rid of the big sort of pasta and rice options particularly during the day and if you do have carbohydrate
and you feel a little bit anxious, even though this sounds counter-intuitive, the time that you want it would be in the evening with dinner. Because carbohydrate helps your body produce serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin, and therefore this is going to help you get a good night's sleep that following evening. This is particularly for people who might struggle with sleep on a typical low carb approach to diet, or just struggle with sleep in general because their mind is overactive.
Having carbs in the evening time can be a helpful strategy to help calm the mind down, help reduce that melatonin and get to sleep. However, if you're not really impacted in that in any way, shape or form, then no big deal, you don't necessarily need it. But you just don't wanna have those carbs throughout the day because if you drive up your blood sugar, you're gonna drive up your cravings and crash your energy. Something else which from a blood sugar perspective is
probably not a bad idea is to get some fasted cardio in the morning, despite that sleep restriction. And I know that a lot of people, particularly athletes who train, they might hear that it's important not to train on a day where you haven't had after a bad night's sleep because you increase your risk of injury, you're gonna be working harder for the same amount of intensity, if you like, or the intensity is gonna feel harder than what it should.
perceived effort is going to be greater, then you're not going to recover as well. So I'm not at all suggesting that you go balls to the wall and go hard out with that exercise, but some fasted cardio will help utilize your blood sugars, your fasting blood sugars, which tend to be higher after a night of sleep restriction, and help bring them down. So from a metabolic health perspective, and we are all humans who want to be healthy, this isn't a bad idea.
45 minutes to an hour of fairly easy to steady cardio, something which doesn't feel overly hard, isn't a bad idea at all. And in reality, I think a lot of how we perceive going into training on sort of lack of sleep is actually just that. It's our perception, it's what people say how we should feel after a poor night's sleep when it comes to training. But some of the best workouts can come the day after having a terrible sleep. And
And in fact, it might be as a function of having bad sleep because you do have elevated blood sugar. So you've got readily available fuel. You are running a little bit on cortisol, which also will impact on your blood sugar and free fatty acid availability for a workout. Of course, this will have implications later in the day if you're not having good amounts of protein and not relying on caffeine, but doing fasted cardio from metabolic health perspective is a good idea to my mind.
Which of course then brings me to my sort of final point, or one of my final points, which is to make sure you're active and you're not just inside and you're not getting fresh air or out in nature and things like that. So just from a mood perspective, tired or not, being outdoors in the fresh air, being in sort of a natural environment where possible, getting some movement throughout the day when...
our energy levels are probably telling us that's the last thing we wanna do. This will just help with that physical weariness that then allows us to get better sleep the next night. We know that light during the day and natural light during the day is important for our circadian rhythm and optimizing sleep. If it's sort of overcast outside, being outside is actually important for our whole sort of sleep routine. So you don't want to give that a miss.
particularly after a night where you haven't had a great night's sleep. So I think being active is also really important. Take magnesium that night. So 45 minutes before bed. I like a magnesium like Ethical Nutrients, which helps your glutamate to GABA ratio. So GABA is our calming neurotransmitter. And the Ethical Nutrients mega magnesium powder, it has taurine and B6 in it too. And taurine is amino acid. Vitamin B6 is
as the name suggests, a B vitamin. And both of these help with that GABA pathway. So take some magnesium 45 minutes before going to bed, have a hot shower or do some sort of something warm like that, have a warm bath, or if you're lucky enough to have a spa pool, jump in the spa, because we do need our body's temperature regulation to sort of kick into gear and cool us down. So counter-intuitively, having something warm before bed helps this.
Another supplement that might be helpful would be collagen because collagen contains glycine and glycine is another nutrient which helps reduce core body temperature. So you might want to have a nice sort of sugar-free hot chocolate with collagen added before going to bed. And whilst collagen doesn't have the amino acids, leucine or isoleucine or valine, the branch chains we know that are important for maximizing muscle protein synthesis.
it does still contribute to protein intake. So there's always that benefit too. And whether or not to nap during your day after a night of poor sleep really comes down to one, whether or not you can. Two, the timing of the nap. Like you certainly wouldn't want to nap late in the afternoon. Like you would want to do it earlier in the day. And you can sort of set yourself a timer of even 20 minutes is enough to get a bit of a refresh if you have that opportunity.
And you may well be feeling a little bit weary for the rest of the week. And certainly for me, I know that I struggle a little bit with that. But when it comes to the weekend, as I mentioned earlier, keep the same sleep routine, but you can tack on like an additional half hour of the of sleep within that. And that's not going to disrupt your usual sleep routine too much. So so that's something else. So in summary, then one, take creatine to.
Avoid overt carbohydrate. Three, don't rely too much on caffeine. Four, do fasted cardio, 45 minutes to an hour of easy. Five, be generally active and don't skip your workout just because you have not had good sleep because you may just have a banger of a workout. Six, do what you can to optimize your sleep routine going into that next evening and for the rest of the week as well.
There's loads I could say on sleep as you can tell, but I will leave it there. And if you've got any particular tips around sleep you wanna share, please feel free to DM me over on Facebook @mikkiwillidennutrition, over on Instagram and Twitter and threads @mikkiwilliden or head to my website, mikkiwilliden.com and you can book a one-on-one call with me or sign up to one of my meal plans. All right team, have a great week. See you later.