Foods Affecting Your Sleep

We all know that sleep is an essential part of life.


Yet it is estimated that 35-50% of the American adult population experience symptoms of insomnia.


I was one of these people for years. I remember trying EVERYTHING just to get a decent night of sleep. Knowing I couldn’t continue to function on this low amount of sleep I dove into understanding the factors that affect sleep. After implementing items I learned through my research I was finally able to sleep well.


We all understand sleep is when our body rests and restores, but did you know your body does so much more while we sleep?


  • The body detoxes stored toxins

  • Toxic byproducts are removed from your brain, which build up throughout the day, allowing your brain to function clearly

  • Cells both repair and regrow

  • Short-term memories convert into long-term memories

  • Controls & regulates hunger hormones

Sleep is SO important, yet so many people struggle with getting good, restful sleep.


#1 - Foods Affecting Your Sleep


You will often hear me say that what we eat is either the best form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.


This is SO true when it comes to sleep. The foods we eat directly affect how we sleep.


Sugar:

A 2016 study looked at how sugar affected sleep. There were 2 groups; 1 group that ate a diet higher in sugar consumption while a second group ate a diet with limited sugars. The results found that the group that consumed higher levels of sugars had worse sleep scores. They took longer to fall asleep, experienced higher restless sleep nights, more frequent awakenings throughout the night, and spent less time in deep sleep. Deep sleep is key because this sleep stage is when our body heals and restores, as well as for maintaining healthy metabolism and immune function.


I did a little research on my own with this one. I wear an Oura Ring to track my sleep, HRV, recovery, oxygen, and heart rate. I don't often eat sugar, but around my birthday I ate dairy free ice cream and gluten free cookies as a treat. My sleep score, recovery score, and HRV TANKED! The data showed that I was very restless and woke up often, but I can tell you I noticed a difference without looking at the data.


Alcohol:

You often hear people say they drink a glass of wine to help them fall asleep. Alcohol does act as a sedative so it does make you fall asleep faster. However, because of its sedative traits, you go initially into deep sleep but as the alcohol wears off, the body will spend most of the night in light sleep and have nighttime awakenings.


Studies have also shown that alcohol delays the first REM sleep stage and high doses of alcohol reduce the total amount of REM sleep. Our REM sleep is key for memory consolidation and cognitive processes.


Studies have also shown that consecutive days of drinking before bed can lower melatonin levels and interfere with our body temperature, both of which will affect our sleep quality.


Food preservatives:

One preservative that has been linked to insomnia and poor sleep is MSG. This food additive is commonly found in fast food, chips, seasonings, soups, frozen meals, and noodles. MSG can be found under alternative names including monosodium salt, monohydrate, monosodium glutamate, monosodium glutamate monohydrate, monosodium L-glutamate monohydrate, MSG monohydrate, sodium glutamate monohydrate, L-Glutamic acid, monosodium salt, and monohydrate.


Some people are more sensitive to MSG than others and notice it affects their sleep. MSG has glutamate in it, which is an excitatory chemical to the brain. When sensitive people consume foods containing MSG at night, it lights up their brain and can keep them from winding down. A recent study has also linked MSG intake to sleep disordered breathing and snoring which can negatively affect sleep quality.


Remember that everything you put in your body is either helping your health or hindering it!


I encourage you to do dome experiments at home! It's really easy if you have a sleep tracker like an Oura Ring, FitBit, Apple Watch, or Garmin. See how your sleep is affected when you eat these foods versus when you don't! I bet you'll be SHOCKED to see how they negatively affect you!




0 comments