Listen on Apple Podcasts
What’s On Our Minds
Something’s been bugging me. I have this theory that we overeat – a lot of times – not out of hunger or even cravings, but because we’re feeling wired and wound-up from excess cortisol production. This theory kinda makes me feel like Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny…” and his conspiracy meme.
Anyway, I think it’s all connected and cyclical. Here’s how that cycle could work:
1. We produce excess cortisol – known as the “stress” hormone – possibly because of sleep loss, stress, poor diet, or maybe too much caffeine.
2. The elevated cortisol causes us to reach for more food (subconsciously) to tamp it down at night.
3. Then we sleep poorly, not just because of the all-day elevated cortisol, but because we’re overeating and probably not choosing the best kinds of foods.
4. Then the next day, we wake up after a poor night of sleep and seek out things that’ll give us a temporary bump in energy (often excess caffeine).
5. This leads to high cortisol in the evening and starts the cycle all over again.
So I found a few studies that show how inadequate sleep is linked to nighttime cravings, how high carb eating can lead to disrupted sleep, and how sleep loss can lead to elevated cortisol the next evening.
But don’t assume I know what I’m talking about here. I’ll be the first to admit that you can find (or cherry pick) any study to back up whatever it is you want to believe in. I’m not a scientist or a sleep expert. I’m just a curious person who wants to sleep well and avoid eating for reasons outside of hunger. And a lot of people will say that carbs increase serotonin production and lead to improved sleep – those people are correct and I agree with them. But being in the habit of eating excess carbs and junk food every night is what concerns me.
So what’s the solution? Eat and live in a way that promotes better sleep. I have a few strategies; the most important would be working to lower stress in the daytime by being strategic about caffeine intake – if that’s a problem for you like it has been for me.
Then at night, instead of snacking, I drink a big glass of this stuff because it’s sweet and it makes me feel relaxed. If you’re not against supplementation, you can use a few to help tamp down evening cortisol as well.
Chris has a list of recommendations that include Biotest ZMA and Biotest Z-12, which I use as well. He also likes Vital Proteins Sleep Collagen Shot, and he talks about how to use fish oil to combat elevated cortisol.
Oh, and we talked about GABA, which can be a miracle those who need sleep. I love it so much I wrote an article about it.
• What has science learned recently about naughty dreams?
• What’s the key to increasing your likability and social status?
• How can you turn on your “love hormone” for instant good feels?
• What non-verbal communication style leads to better relationships and (ironically) more sex?
Chris covers all of that and more in this week’s science-based quiz. Can you pass it?
This one might be controversial. Science has figured out something about vegetarians and vegans: they have a higher rate of psychological problems, including depression.
But why? Does their limited diet cause more mental health issues because of nutritional deficiencies? Or are people who suffer from psychological problems just drawn to strict, “punishing” eating styles?
We dig deeper into this topic using the latest science. But basically, the best way to eat for sanity’s sake is either: A. don’t be vegan, or B. supplement the hell out of your vegan diet.
The Shugart Cart
There’s an app in my cart this week that I’ve been using before bed. It’s called Dwell Audio Bible, and it’s known as the “Spotify of Scripture” kinda.
Chris has Australian Macadamia Nut Oil from Strength Genesis, which is known as “the new olive oil” because it can be heated at a higher temperature and not get damaged.