Could Diet Be The Reason You Can’t Sleep?

Do you sleep well?

Or do you suffer from insomnia?

I have, for my entire life, gotten up after 2 or 3 hours, gone to the bathroom, had a big glass of water, gone back to bed and immediately back to sleep. My total awake time is less than 5 minutes, and then I sleep soundly until morning. It’s such an ingrained habit I barely realize I’m doing it.

I also, for all of my adult life, have eaten dinner late.

Not late by Midwestern US standards, which would be, gosh, 7:30!

We eat late by almost everyone’s standards…. Except the Spanish.

We eat between 10:00 and 11:00…. or, maybe midnight.

It’s also a habit.

In our defense, we don’t have big, heavy meals – because we don’t eat that way. Our dinner is healthier than that big bowl of ice cream eaten while watching the evening news.

This guest post did make me thing about it, however.  We’ve had lots of people (who eat at 5:30 and then have the ice cream) tell us it’s unhealthy to eat so close to bedtime.

Most animals sleep after eating and we humans are animals (mammals). Lots of cultures / workers take naps after a big lunch.

I’d probably be more concerned if I didn’t sleep well…. Anyway here is some food for thought:

Could Your Diet Be The Reason You Can’t Sleep At Night?

You know how it is. You toss, you turn, you watch the bedside clock count away the minutes and hours before your alarm goes off. All the while you look forward to a miserable day of poor focus and droopy eyelids.

Hand photo created by jcomp –

Insomnia is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders and affects roughly 30 percent of the adult population. Though there is a range of possible causes to your restless nights, there is one that you may not have thought about that could save you a trip to the doctor.Your diet.

What you eat and when you eat it can have a startling effect on your sleep health in ways you may have never thought about. There are foods that help promote sleep and definitely those that hinder a good night’s rest.

First, let’s talk about timing. What could be more innocent than a midnight snack, right? Unfortunately, late night eating may pose greater risks to our ability to sleep than we might think.

When we lay down at night, the chemicals that promote sleep also suppress our digestive system so hopefully, we’re not up and to the bathroom all night. A full stomach combined with chemicals telling it to slow down is a recipe for heartburn that is likely to wake you up at night.

If you want to eat rich, slow to digest foods, make sure you do so within 2 to 3 hours of going to bed. This way your body has an opportunity to start breaking it down before you’re out for the night.

A nibble of dark chocolate or a small coffee after dinner may seem like a great way to conclude your evening meal, but you should be cautious about how much caffeine you consume so close to bedtime as these can leave you wide-awake.

The same goes for large doses of sugar. Sugar may cause a spike in insulin as your body works to bring your blood sugar to a normal level. Most people feel slightly “rushed” after consuming sugar, leading straight into a crash. Abnormal interference with your body’s normal wind-down routine may make you feel sleepy, but it’s not a restful sleep that is likely to last.

If you must have a late night snack (and this is often the case for people who take night time medications) make sure that it is something that digests quickly. Acidic foods like citrus fruits or tomatoes should be avoided as they can cause an upset stomach.

Ever heard of the glass of warm milk before bed? There may be some truth to that. Studies published by the American Society of Nutrition suggest that the ingestion of milk, kiwi fruit, and tart cherries may help you fall to sleep faster, though the authors conclude further study is required to determine how these effects are achieved.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, tart cherry juice, pineapple, and bananas all contain melatonin, which is the chemical your body releases when your circadian clock reaches bedtime. By boosting the amount of this chemical in your system, you may help ease your body into a deep and restful sleep.

A consistent bedtime routine can go a long way towards promoting better and healthier sleep, and taking better care with your diet is a large part of keeping the effects of insomnia at bay.

You don’t have to give up your favorite foods, but being more mindful about what you consume close to your bedtime can help you sleep better and enjoy life to the fullest.

Last update on June 13, 2019

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