Many of us strive to eat healthy diets, buy nutritious foods, and fret about how our diet affects our waistlines. However, when we are preoccupied with being thin, we might lose sight of other aspects of our overall health. For instance, have you ever thought about how your diet influences your sleep? Do you have trouble with insomnia?
Believe it or not, our diet and endeavors for good health might be the culprit. Without even knowing it, even the most health-conscious amongst us consume food that harms our sleep. If it’s not the contents of the food itself, then the time when we consume the food can actually disrupt our sleep schedule. Our diet, even when it might be a flawlessly healthy, organic meal, is part of our lifestyle. However, according to a WebMD post here, “Lifestyle habits can play a leading role in quality of sleep, too, or lack thereof. So the first thing you should do is analyze your patterns and environment.”
Our lifestyle has unintended consequences, even when it is healthy on the surface. In this post, we plan to analyze some common eating patterns that influence sleep. Luckily, we can improve our quality of sleep by knowing the appropriate times to eat, the ideal foods to eat, and adjusting our schedule accordingly.
To Eat, Or Not To Eat
Sleep experts know that certain activities can prolong insomnia, such as intensive exercise or a 6-course meal before hitting the sheets. The reason for this is that our metabolism is in high gear, working hard to digest that delicious cuisine. Unfortunately, when the body is actively digesting food, it can make it more difficult for one to rest. Sufferers of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) can attest that heartburn from acidic foods keeps them awake at night. The solution to avoiding this phenomenon, for even those who don’t have GERD experience disturbances in sleep related to food, is to control what you eat and at what time.
Many health professionals consider six o’clock in the evening to be the latest you should embark upon a gargantuan meal. The rationale behind this is that the digestive system would be bogged down and working hard while to body tries to sleep. Parts of the digestive process and stomach upset might contribute to insomnia. If possible, eat meals like this earlier in the day, so that the metabolic processes occur sooner and are less jarring while falling and staying asleep. Light meals and snacks after six o’clock are more ideal for a restful slumber.
However, not everyone is capable of ceasing all food intake at 6 o’clock. Some people consider eating and relaxing activities, such as watching TV or listening to music as part of their routine before bedtime. If you cannot avoid eating in the evening, then you can focus on eating snack foods before bed. The key to snacking is to avoid acidic foods, which could cause indigestion. It’s also important to avoid carbohydrates and sugary foods to circumvent the sugar high, then low, which leads to an unpleasant emotional sensation. On that note, mind-altering substances and alcohol also impact sleep and should be avoided because their psychological effects can cause sleep troubles.
Foods To Avoid Insomnia
- Large, multi-course meals for the body to process
- Red meat that is fatty and hard to digest
- Spicy foods, raw onions, citrus fruits and other items that cause heartburn
- Beverages like coffee that have caffeine
- Dark chocolate due to caffeine
- Alcoholic drinks
Safe Snack Foods To Consider
- Chamomile and other sleep-friendly teas
- Light yogurts and easily digestible snacks
- Less acidic fruits and vegetables
- Nuts that contain good fatty acids
- Oatmeal and milk