Recently, everyone’s been buzzing about how your screen time can affect the quality of your sleep, and that’s a relatively new problem that can be somewhat easy to fix. But there are many other factors that can cause insomnia and make you sleep-deprived.
One of the main causes of your sleep troubles could just be your diet. Not only does it affect your physical fitness and your weight, but it can also have a huge impact on your mental health, and you’ve guessed it – your sleep quality.
So, let’s take a look at how your diet affects your sleep, which foods and drinks you should avoid, and which ones you should always go for.
Insomnia Caused by Your Food Choices
Your diet and sleep are so interconnected that even the slightest change in one will almost undoubtedly cause a change in the other.
Several studies have already shown that your food choices during the day do affect your sleep at night. Eating food of poor quality will cause you to wake up more often during the night, and you’ll have much lighter and less restorative sleep.
Some of the foods with the biggest impact on the quality of your sleep include those that are heavily processed, high in sugar, and high in low-quality carbohydrates. So, if your diet consists of instant noodles, junk food, and sweets, and you’re not sleeping really well at night, you’ve found the possible culprit.
On the other hand, evidence suggests that there is a link between sleep loss and obesity. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re much more likely to make poor food choices. Poor sleep quality commonly goes hand in hand with irregular meals and increased snacking, and you’ll be much more likely to go for higher-fat and sugary foods instead of for fruits or vegetables.
Unfortunately, this can all turn into a vicious cycle. The more tired you are, the worse your diet is, and the worse your sleep quality is, causing you to become even more tired. It’s important to be aware of this and remember to correct your dietary choices even when you’re sleep-deprived.
Drinks That Keep You Awake
Of course, it’s not all about the food, and many of the drinks that you enjoy during the day can have consequences on your sleep at night.
Any sugary and caffeinated drinks can disrupt your sleep, including sodas, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate among others.
64% of Americans drink coffee daily, and that can have both positive and negative effects. In moderation, it’s known to increase alertness, assist in weight loss, and improve cognitive functioning.
However, caffeine increases your adrenaline and blocks the production of sleep-inducing chemicals in your brain. A single cup of coffee has an effect that can last 5+ hours, although it all depends on the individual. This is why it’s generally recommended not to have any caffeinated drinks about 6 hours before sleep.
Alcohol can disrupt your sleep even more. While a glass of wine with dinner might make you feel drowsy, it affects the quality of the REM sleep phase. So, you might fall asleep faster, but the overall quality of your sleep will be much worse.
Your Eating Schedule Can Disrupt Your Sleep
If you tend to eat dinner just before going to sleep, you might experience insomnia, and you’ll be much more likely to wake up more often during the night.
Any foods that are bad for your digestion can greatly affect your sleep if eaten right before bedtime. This primarily includes fried, oily foods. They are very difficult to digest, and it will take a lot of time for your body to do so, potentially keeping you awake all night.
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid eating large meals just before going to sleep. However, you should also try to avoid going to beg hungry.
An empty stomach can cause you discomfort, so grabbing a healthy snack is usually your best option. A little bit of low-sugar cereal, yogurt, or bananas are a great snack before bedtime.
Drinking a lot of fluids before sleep can also keep you up at night, forcing you to go to the restroom every so often. You do want to stay hydrated, but don’t drink too much water just before sleeping.
Shift Workers, Sleep Quality, and Diet
Shift workers typically have the most problems with the quality of their sleep simply because it’s difficult to regulate their circadian rhythm. Add to that poor diet, and it’s no wonder they’re so exhausted all the time.
While a better diet cannot give you control over your circadian system, it can ensure that you don’t suffer from insomnia because of it.
You should try and eat your biggest meal before going to work, this will give you more energy and keep you awake. Eating healthy snacks during your shift and avoiding overeating can save you a lot of trouble.
Foods to Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep
In short, any diet that’s good for your waistline is usually good for the quality of your sleep. A Mediterranean diet with plenty of whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates can help you maintain the good quality of your sleep.
Getting your dose of protein before bed can improve your sleep quality, and so can fruits such as kiwi, cherries, and apples.
The Bottom Line
Your diet and sleep are linked, and if you’ve been experiencing problems with the quality of your sleep, changing your eating habits can help you greatly. Following these tips will keep you healthy and well-rested.