By: Alicia Sanchez
If you are having trouble sleeping, you might not realize that the reason is because of the food that you are eating throughout the day. A lot of foods have more of an effect on your sleep than you might imagine.
Here are 5 eating habits that could be affecting your sleep and tips to improve them:
1. Late Night Snacks can lead to Disturbed Sleep
The more work your body has to do to digest food at night, the less sleep you will get. When those foods are high in water content, you are much more likely to need to use the bathroom during the middle of the night, which disturbs your sleep. If you eat something like beans as a late night snack, gas pains could keep you up. Try to leave three or four hours between your last meal and when you go to bed to allow your body to digest everything properly.
2. Too Much Sugar leads to Energy Dips & Surges
If you have a high sugar diet, you could be setting yourself up for a day full of energy dips and surges. The human body turns sugar straight into energy, but that feeling doesn’t last very long. Sugar then causes a quick crash, needing your body to recover through an additional energy source.
If you want a more evenly keeled energy source, avoid high sugar items when you need energy. The fluctuations that come with having too much sugar before you go to bed can cause poor sleep due to blood sugar levels. High sugar diets also lead to high anxiety, impacting sleep health.
3. Carbs, Dairy Make You Sleepier
If you have to make yourself a midnight snack, something that mixes complex carbs and dairy can be a great option. The amino acids in dairy break down into tryptophan - the same ingredient in turkey that makes you feel sleepy. Carbohydrates make it easier for your body to metabolize tryptophan, which means it will be easier for you to get to sleep.
However, you might want to avoid this combination of snacks in the early afternoon as you are more likely to feel tired earlier in the day. Instead, try having a high protein snack.
4. Spicy or Acidic Foods = Heartburn at Night
Try to avoid foods with high levels of spice or acid in the evenings; when you lay down it can cause heartburn or acid reflux, impacting sleep.
Keep these meals for breakfast or lunch and your body will be able to deal with them a lot better than it can in the evenings. Your body will thank you for it.
5. Avoid the Afternoon Caffeine
While you might need the caffeine to get you through your mornings, try to avoid it if at all possible within eight hours before bedtime. While you will only feel the caffeine effects for a few hours, it can stay in your system for up to 8 hours, making it harder for your body to relax for proper sleep. This includes dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
Limit your coffee intake to the morning and you will be better off in the long run, as you will ultimately improve your sleep health and be better rested.
Post in collaboration with Tuck Sleep.
Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck Sleep with a specialty in health and wellness.