Can Your Dietary Habits Affect Your Sleep Habits?

Falling asleep and staying asleep are components of a natural and essential process that we all encounter on a daily basis, and most people usually do not have a problem doing either. These people typically have harnessed and nurtured certain lifestyle and dietary habits that promote sound sleep. People who have problems either falling or staying asleep, however, are often missing out on a critical dietary habit or practicing bad dietary habits that directly interfere with sleep. Some dietary habits have beneficial effects on sleep. Do you know which is which?

What you eat and drink can have a significant impact on your ability to fall or stay asleep. Numerous foods can make you feel sleepy, while others can cause trouble sleeping. So what exactly is the link between food and sleep? We know that some foods and drinks will absolutely have an effect on your level of alertness.

oatmealOne of the ways to achieve a healthy night’s sleep is to keep the brain calm rather than alert and agitated. And strikingly, research has shown that what you eat a few hours before bed can dramatically affect your alertness or calmness, thus impacting your sleep patterns. For example, tryptophan, an amino acid, helps produce serotonin and melatonin which are important neurotransmitters that help relax your mind and body. Tryptophan is famously prominent in turkey, and that is why so many people feel very, very sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal.

But sometimes it’s not just the content of the food we eat that affects the way we sleep; the quantity and timing can also have a huge impact. For example it is best to avoid eating a large meal prior to bed time. This may seem counter intuitive at first, because we often feel tired after eating a big meal during our active hours. You might think, “if a big meal gets me this tired during the day, surely it will help me feel tired when it’s time for bed.” However, the process of digestion, with all its muscle contractions and acidic processes, disrupts sleep and can in fact prevent you from falling into a deep sleep entirely.

Of equal but opposite importance, you should take care never to go to bed hungry. you need to strike a harmony between eating too much, and not eating enough. Being hungry in bed will keep you awake, no doubt fantasizing about food, but more importantly it will put your digestive system into a position where it begins consuming your own body’s fat reserves for sustenance. This is why we feel “hunger pangs,” and hunger pangs keep us awake. One suggestion is to eat a very small, light snack shortly before going to bed.

As we all know, several kinds of food, such as milk, can help with sleeping. But we do not know that some foods actually bring sleeping difficulties to people. First of all, food like sweet potatoes, corns and peas may produce lots of gas (and, yes, consequential flatulence) during the digestion process. As a result, if people eat such starch-heavy foods before sleeping, they would feel way too full to actually get any real sleep in. Secondly, in a manner similar to caffeine-heavy foods and drinks such as coffee and tea, spicy foods and salty foods excite your nerves and the alertness centers in your brain as well as your tastebuds and make sleeping even more difficult. Furthermore, these kinds of food make stomachs uncomfortable and consume the substances which are helpful to sleeping. Finally, fatty food influences sleeping quality, too. Such food burdens the digestion system and induces the nerve system so that the human body works all the time; deep sleep, on the other hand, requires that your muscles go into a state of stasis and atrophy. What is even worse, it delays the whole process of sleep entirely.

To enhance the quality of sleep and prevent insomnia, people are advised to eat some food that can help with sleeping instead of eating the foods mentioned above. The following foods are a great choice:

· Almonds. These nuts contain tryptophan, which stimulates sleep.

· Turkey. Contains high levels of tryptophan. Think about a tiny turkey sandwich, hold the cheese though. Cheese can be harder to digest and cause gas.

· Oatmeal. Basic and hearty, oatmeal contains plenty of carbohydrates and will fill you up without forcing your digestive system to work too hard.

 ·Warm milk. The somniferous powers of a glass of warm milk have been touted for years. The power of a small glass of milk is familiar to most people. Scientific research has found that there exists two major chemicals which make people sleepy. One chemical is tryptophan, which prompts the brain to produce a certain neurotransmitter called hydroxide. It is this neurotransmitter that makes people sleep easily. The other chemical is a peptide that is similar to opium; this chemical is pretty prominent in milk. It mixes with the central nervous system to calm and relax the body. 

If you eat some of the above-mentioned items in small quantities shortly before going to bed, you might see very noticeable improvements in your sleep habits and a reduction in insomnia!

Mike is a freelance writer who is fascinated by incredible design; whether he is analyzing the delicate elegance of the human muscular system, the efficiency and foreward-thinkingness of Roman architectural columns, or the rich and strong wooden frames of modern teak platform beds – he always finds something to be excited about in the world of design and engineering. He wrote this article for, a furniture retailer that also designs some of its own unique reclaimed-wood low-profile beds that are built to last a lifetime.

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7 Responses to “Can Your Dietary Habits Affect Your Sleep Habits?”

  1. Raymundo Y. Yates says:

    Stay away from sweets before bedtime. Sugar acts as a stimulant on the body, revving it up instead of calming it down. Caffeine is the same. Spicy foods can cause heartburn that can prevent a good’s night’s sleep, according to ABC News.

  2. Merlin Cohen says:

    Some foods naturally high in the amino acid tryptophan (turkey, nut butters, figs, rice, tuna, and bananas) are more likely to induce sleep when consumed shortly before bedtime. Foods high in magnesium and B-complexes may also augment sleep.

  3. Lakisha J. Nielsen says:

    If you try the following recommendations, your child’s behavior will probably improve in 2 weeks. The older your child is, the harder it will be to change your child’s habits. Children over 1 year old will fight sleep even when they are tired. They will vigorously protest any change and may cry for hours. However, if you don’t take these steps, your child won’t start sleeping through the night until 3 or 4 years of age, when busy daytime schedules finally exhaust your child.

  4. Bernard James says:

    5.) Drink a big glass of water before going to bed and when you wake up; this will help clean out your system. Milk can also help you sleep. It contains an amino acid called tryptophan. Which produces the effect of a sedative. Do not consume any foods or drink that contain caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol at least 4 to 5 hours before going to bed . Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that will keep you from sleeping. Also, refrain from a large meal at least 3 hours before bed time.

  5. Kelly R. says:

    I know that I can tell a great difference in both my sleep patterns and my daughter’s depending on what we have eaten close to bedtime. Great post.

  6. Stephanie Thompson says:

    All so true and I have tried it all. I drink a lot of Mtn Dew so I do have trouble sleeping but give me a cup of coffee and I will go to sleep quick and sleep sound for hours, which I have no idea why that is. I am going to have to send this to my Daughter for her research to help my 2 yr old grandson sleep. He is one child that hardly sleeps and loves to eat so giving him more stuff to eat that will help him sleep will surely help her get more sleep.

  7. Teri says:

    I wasn’t aware that foods could effect your sleep! I shall pay more attention to what I snack on now

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