How Food May Affect Your Sleep, If you could pick foods that may help you get the best sleep possible, would you? And if you knew which foods may hinder your restful slumber, would you avoid them? Now is your chance to learn just that for a good night’s sleep. Though the research is not solid, being mindful of what you eat and drink before bed may help.
Eating an overall healthy and nutrient-rich diet affects your brain health and activity — and in turn, your sleep. Creating a healthy eating & sleeping cycle can make a difference in your health and wellbeing.
Many people overlook how a poor diet can affect their sleep. The foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices. When you are tired, you are likely to eat more than you need to make poor food choices. Not getting enough sleep can lead to increased snacking and irregular meals, and more likely to eat fewer vegetables and instead opt for high-fat, high-sugar foods.
From the Researcher point of view, eating foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed carbohydrates can affect your sleep while eating more plants, fiber, and foods rich in unsaturated fat, e.g., nuts, olive oil, fish, and avocados, etc. helps to promote sound sleep.
Over the years, epidemiological studies discovered that people who suffer from consistently bad sleep tend to have poorer quality diets, with less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and a higher intake of sugar from foods like sugary beverages and processed foods. But could not explain whether poor diet precedes and leads to poor sleep or the reverse because their studies only show correlations, not cause and effect.
To better understand how poor diet can affect your sleep, some researchers have randomly done trials on individuals in which they tell participants what to eat and then look for changes in their sleep. Other studies have found that foods containing tryptophan (an amino acid) can help stimulate serotonin and melatonin, promoting sleep.
What should I eat or drink less to sleep well?
- Avoid heavy fatty or spicy foods: Heavy foods that are spicy or fatty are hard to digest than lighter ones like bananas or whole grains. Indigestion before bedtime makes it hard for your body to relax and go to sleep. Reduce your intake of these foods and drinks to help improve the quality of your sleep.
- Reduce your intake of highly processed carbohydrates, such as refined noodles, sweets, energy, or sugary drinks
- Eat protein foods contain tryptophan, such as chicken, eggs, cheese, fish, peanuts, pumpkin, milk, turkey, and other soy products.
- Eat high-quality carbohydrate foods, such as wholegrain bread, cereals, oats, etc.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
Shift Work, Sleep, and Diet
If you are a shift worker, try to eat a balanced meal before arriving at work or within 2-3 hours of starting your shift. This will provide a strong foundation to get you through the night. Keep hydrated during the shift (water is the best). Avoid eating between midnight, and if you do need to eat, go for low calories or protein rich food/snacks. Finally, eat a healthy breakfast before your day time sleep, so you don’t wake up hungry.