Does Food Affect Sleep?

Does Food Affect Sleep?
Sleep is one of those necessary things each of us needs in order to function both mentally and physically.  Moodiness, sluggishness and the inability to focus and concentrate can be the result of a lack of sleep.  Food is also a necessity. Unfortunately, certain foods prevent a good night's sleep and should be avoided.

Foods To Avoid
The type of food is not the only consideration.  It is best to never eat these foods sooner than 2 or 3 hours before bedtime. 

  • Salty Foods tend to dehydrate causing the body to retain water. This contributes to disrupted or superficial sleep.
  • Caffeine/Nicotine are stimulants.  These are contained in more than the obvious coffee and cigarettes. 
    • Includes chocolate, teas, soda s
    • Includes other "energy" products (read the labels)
  • Spicy/Acidic Foodsraise body temperature.
    • Requires higher levels of energy to digest
    • Energy means "work" which translates to "no sleep"
    • May cause heartburn which normally gets worse when lying down.  
  • Dairy/Preserved Meats (Cheese/Ham/Bacon/Pepperoni) are naturally high in the amino acid, tyramine.
    • Causes the adrenal gland to release cortisol, the "flight or fight" hormone
    • Cortisol causes alertness..... not sleep!
  • Sugars, like ice cream (favorite comfort food), causes blood glucose to spike.
    • Blood sugar crashes a few hours later while sleeping
    • Sends an alarm to the adrenal glands to increase cortisol which wakes the body up!
  • Alcohol - You might think that nightcap is nice and relaxing, however, it is actually a stimulant and will cause you to wake up during the night.
As you can see, foods can definitely affect sleep in an adverse way.  On the flip side, there are also foods that can help induce sleep by promoting melatonin, the sleep hormone.  Eating these foods before bedtime will help to encourage sleep.

Foods To Encourage Sleep
  • Cherries can be eaten or can drink the juice before bed.
    • Naturally contains melatonin
  • Raw Honey can be added to warm water with a little lemon and drank
    • Stimulates melatonin
    • Shuts off "orexin" which makes us sharp and alert
  • Bananas and Almonds are very high in magnesium
    • Relaxes muscles and calms the body
    • Helps switch from the "adrenal" cycle to "rest and digest" cycle
  • Turkey, brown rice and fish are high in tryptophan
    • Calms, balances hormones, and fights anxiety 
A glass of warm milk is often suggested to help promote sleep because it also contains tryptophan.  This may work for the rare person as there just is not enough tryptophan in milk to do the job.

Does food affect sleep?  Absolutely!!  

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