How diet affects sleep

The food we eat affects nearly every part of our lives, but you might not realise just how much. It can help you to feel tired, make you struggle to fall asleep or even make it difficult to stay asleep. Here are some of the ways your diet affects sleep.

Delays sleep

Delaying when you fall asleep will cause you to have a disrupted routine the rest of the day and make it harder for you to fall asleep the next night.

If you eat food that gives you indigestion or heartburn at dinner, you are less likely to be able to fall asleep. If you are a regular caffeine drinker, having it in the afternoons and evenings can have a huge impact on how long it takes you to get to sleep at night.

You should avoid foods that give you indigestion or heartburn at your evening meal in order to have the least effect on your sleep schedule. You should also make sure to keep your caffeine or nicotine intake to the mornings so that it has time to work its way out of your system before bedtime.

If you find this is an issue for you, taking an over-the-counter melatonin supplement might be able to help you fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time.

Disturbed sleep

Some foods cause you to struggle to stay asleep once you get there. Waking up throughout the night will leave you groggy and grumpy in the morning because you lose out on the REM sleep that helps you make it through the day.

Eating right before you go to bed is not good for you. it is more likely to cause indigestion and heartburn, but it’s also going to cause you to need to wake up in the middle of the night. All of these things will cause you to have trouble staying asleep.

Try to avoid using your phone during the middle of the night when you wake up, as it can trigger you to want to deal with the notifications on your screen instead of letting you go back to sleep where you should be. You might also want to try adding a white noise machine to avoid having strange sounds wake you up in the middle of the night.

Makes you feel sleepy

Some foods also have natural chemicals that can work with your body to make you feel sleepier. By adding these foods to your evening meal, and limiting them in the mornings, you can help trick your body into being tired when it needs to be.

Things like sour cherries, grapes, dairy products and carbohydrates all naturally have tryptophan or melatonin in them and can help you to feel tired after eating them.

If you find yourself struggling to sleep on a regular basis, try keeping a food and sleep diary for a couple of weeks to see if there is any connection between what you are eating and how you sleep at night.

You can use this to make some adjustments to your diet on your own or to show to a doctor to get some professional help.


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About Samantha Kent

I'm a researcher for SleepHelp.org. My favourite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, I sleep in a California King bed, often with a cat on my face.