How What You Eat Affects Your Sleep
Your Diet and Your Sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, you might be at a loss trying to figure out why. There are many different reasons that people have difficulty sleeping, but one reason could be your diet.
What you eat can affect how well you are able to sleep at night.
The foods that you eat closest to bedtime have the biggest impact on your sleep. Obviously, caffeine is one of those foods. This doesn’t just mean coffee, though it’s a main culprit. Chocolate, teas and soda pops also contain caffeine as do a number of other foods. It’s important to read labels and make sure a food or drink doesn’t contain caffeine before eating or drinking it in the hours before bedtime. In general, it’s wise to avoid caffeine after the mid-afternoon.
Spicy or acidic foods can also cause problems because they can lead to heartburn, which is often made worse by lying down. Fried or fatty foods cause a similar problem and could result in you to experiencing gastric reflux when you lie down in bed.
As for foods that can actually improve your sleep, try melatonin-rich foods such as cherries or walnuts as well as foods that contain tryptophan such as turkey, eggs, chicken, fish, nuts and dairy products. Carbohydrates may even improve tryptophan production and make it more available to the brain, so have some crackers or bread along with you bedtime snack if you’re having trouble sleeping. However, take note that eating too much before bed can make falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult, so don’t overdo it.
Don’t Forget Exercise
In addition to the foods you eat, your exercise level (and when you exercise) can also affect your sleep. While a morning or mid-afternoon workout can lead to an energy boost that can help get you through the day, exercising before bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give yourself at least three hours between exercise and sleep. This can depend on the individual, however, so do what works for you and experiment until you find the right routine.
Not exercising enough can also make sleep difficult. It’s been shown that regular physical activity improves sleep quality and duration. It also helps reduce stress, which makes it easier to fall asleep in the first place.
So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, take a look at what you’re eating, when you’re eating it and consider how much you’re exercising as well!