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What You Eat Impacts How You Sleep

J. A. Young

Eating a late-night pizza topped with sausage, pepperoni and extra cheese will probably not encourage a good night's sleep, though one might feel tired initially after eating such a meal. Foods that are high in fat or high in protein can lead to wakefulness or even insomnia since they require more time and work from the body's digestive system. On the other hand, there are many types of food that may help calm the body and enhance sleep.

People who have trouble sleeping are especially encouraged to avoid big late-night meals that are more likely to disturb a person's slumber. Eating small portions regularly as opposed to one or two huge meals is better for the body's metabolism as this practice provides an even workflow. Since the body doesn't require much energy to sleep, a big meal at night is unnecessary and would be better placed first thing in the morning when a person can burn off that energy all day long.

Foods like chocolate should be avoided at night since they contain brain-stimulating elements like caffeine. Other foods that may lead to brain stimulation and wakefulness are cured meats, bacon, and even strong cheese. While these foods stimulate, there are other foods that induce calm. Pasta and potatoes have a calming effect on the body as do other carbohydrates which are processed more rapidly by the digestive system. People suffering from insomnia may especially want to serve dinner earlier than usual when the meal is particularly high in protein or fat.

Sometimes heavily seasoned foods can lead to sleep problems. People who suffer from heartburn should avoid eating garlic, peppers, and heavily seasoned foods at dinner. Also, foods with monosodium glutamate (typical of Chinese take-out) can sometimes cause headaches which lead to sleep disturbance. Take note of the seasonings that keep you counting sheep and avoid them at future meal times.

Woman Sleeping

Getting a good night's sleep does not mean complete avoidance of certain foods, but modifying eating practices can lead to a better night's sleep. If suffering a sleep disturbance in the middle of the night, try snacking on a banana or a bowl of oatmeal; these two snacks have been known to induce a calming effect on the body and can, therefore, lead to a more restful night's sleep. Avoid the foods that are prone to disturb your sleep at night and enjoy them earlier in the day or on the weekends when you can go to sleep later. Diet affects many aspects of our lives, but preventing it from interfering with rest can simply be a matter of following tips like these.

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Related Reading: See The Blue Light Switch for Improved Sleep from Nathan Zassman.