Is What You're Eating Undermining Your Sleep?

Not only does what you do in the hours before bed influence your chances of having a good night’s sleep, but what you eat can also play a part.

One of the most obvious things we can steer clear of when trying to get a good night’s sleep is caffeine.  This rules out cola, black tea, dark chocolate, energy drinks and of course, coffee in the evening.  For many of us a cup of coffee any later than early afternoon can be detrimental to getting a restful sleep.

I don’t think that there is anyone among us who hasn’t suffered from eating too late in the evening and then trying to sleep.  Our digestive system is not designed to digest food while sleeping, so food isn’t digested effectively.  Protein takes longer to digest than other nutrients and fatty foods can lead to digestive upset; gastric reflux, heartburn, and flatulence.  Early studies also suggest a link between fatty foods and circadian rhythm. 

While winding down with a nightcap sounds like a good idea, and may help you fall asleep initially, alcohol is disruptive to the later stages of sleep.  You may find yourself awake at 3 am and unable to fall back to sleep or unable to attain deep sleep.

Lastly, drinking too much liquid before bed is a no no.  Try to keep liquid intake to a minimum in the last 2 hours before you go to bed, so you can stay in bed through the night.

In order to increase your chances of a restful night’s sleep there are some things that you can do.  Ensure you exercise early in the evening, leaving time to cool down and unwind after.  Eat your last meal of the day four hours before bedtime.  If you must snack ensure that you eat something light like a piece of fruit, small bowl of cereal or a few crackers.  These are easier to digest.  

Try an herbal, sleepy time tea with chamomile or valerian in it.  These herbs are said to help us drift off.  Just remember to keep the amount to a minimum.  Have a small cup, not a grande or you will be getting up for a “tea” pee in the night.

Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed.  The blue light they emit stimulates our brains and makes it difficult for us to wind down.  Take this time to read a book or journal.  If you cannot live without your TV or laptop there are glasses with orange lenses that you can wear which will neutralize the effect of the blue light.

Hopefully you find some of these tips helpful.  What do you find helps you get a good night’s sleep?