How Certain Foods May Affect Our Sleep Cycle

Your sleep is precious. Sleep can help improve immune function, impact your mood and cognition, maintain cardiovascular health, and so much more!1  Prioritizing your zzz’s means being aware of how the choices you make may impact your sleep, especially when it comes to food. If you are what you eat, you may be wondering “How does food affect our sleep?” Let’s find out!

What You Eat Can Affect Your Sleep

Everything in your body is connected. Your brain chemistry and hormone secretionare responsible for regulating processes like sleep, and are greatly influenced by what you eat.2 A balanced diet full of nutrients helps the brain tell the rest of your body when to sleep. A diet high in saturated fats, sugar, and not enough fiber can lead to people having lighter, less restorative sleep .3 Sugar, specifically sucrose, can affect your blood sugar levels by giving you a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash. This may cause you to reach for more sugar, instead of nutrient packed foods. It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat that can affect your sleep. Eating too little or too much before bedtime can impact digestion or wake you up in the middle of the night with hunger pains. It’s an ongoing cycle. When you’re not sleeping well, you’re more likely to reach for processed and high sugar foods. This in turn of course, can affect your sleep. It’s important to know what foods to avoid, and which ones can help you in getting a solid night’s rest.

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Foods To Avoid Before Bed

While it’s best to eat a few hours before going to sleep, everyone craves a bedtime snack from time to time. Whether it’s dinner or a late night craving, there are certain foods that you may want to avoid before hitting the hay.
  • Anything too heavy, like fried foods.
  • Large Meals: It’s usually best to eat your biggest meals in the middle of the day, and a lighter one for dinner. 
  • Alcohol: Although you fall asleep fast, it can impact the quality of your sleep by disrupting sleep cycles.
  • Caffeine: Beware of caffeine hidden in tea, chocolate, candy and certain over the counter medications. It’s best to avoid it for the few hours before bedtime.
  • Spicy Foods: Put down the hot sauce! Spicy foods can lead to heartburn, which can keep you up at night. This is especially true if you’re prone to acid reflux. 
  • Other Culprits of Heartburn: They may vary from person to person, but common heartburn inducing foods include garlic, onions, citrus and tomatoes. 
  • Food Sensitivities: If you know you have certain food sensitivities, like lactose intolerance, make extra effort to avoid those foods before bed. They can especially impact you if you’re trying to fall asleep while feeling bloated and gassy.

Tryptophan Rich Foods To Promote a Good Night's Sleep

Wondering what food to eat before bed? You’ve probably heard of or experienced the effects of tryptophan after a turkey dinner.4  This amino acid 5  is one of the building blocks that helps produce niacin, which in turns creates serotonin — an essential neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, digestion, and of course, sleep.6 Turkey isn’t the only food that can help you get to sleep. Here are some other tryptophan rich foods to chow down on:
  • Chicken, fish, shellfish and eggs
  • Soy and tofu
  • Sesame and pumpkin seeds
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach
  • Beef, pork and lamb
  • Grains like oats, wheat, and buckwheat
  • Bananas
  • Bean and lentils
  • Milk and cheese
No matter what your dietary and preferences are, there’s something on this list for everyone.
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A balanced diet and good sleep cycle can help keep you healthy and by building a strong immune system. If you do happen to get sick you can always reach for a homeopathic product like Brillia Health to help ease your symptoms. So get those nutrients in, and enjoy a good night’s sleep!
References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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