Bedtime munchies: How what you eat affects how you sleep


Just as what we eat during the day influences our energy levels, the same impacts on how much sleep we get.

Everyone digests food at different speeds, whilst some food stuffs are easier to break down than others.

You have to get the balance just right as going to bed too full can make it difficult to drop off, and being hungry will disrupt how much shut-eye you get.

Bed specialist Time4Sleep spoke to Vanessa Quarmby from the Yorkshire Dietician in a bid to understand how paying closer attention to our diet can help us all enjoy a little more quality rest.

Vanessa explained, "If you regularly go to bed at midnight then eating at 8pm should be fine. If, however, you like an early night, eating as late as 8pm could stop you from going to sleep well. Heavy rich meals two hours before bed should be avoided."

Indigestion
Avoid foods that lead to indigestion, while onions, chocolate, spicy foods, tea and coffee can cause reflux - the encroachment of stomach acids into the oesophagus - which is really disruptive to your sleep.

Alcohol
Alcohol can have the same effect, as well as inducing the body to produce more adrenaline, so is best avoided before bedtime.

Low G.I.
"Having foods that have a low Glycaemic Index can help moderate blood sugar and keep it constant which helps keep your energy levels up, it should help keep you from having to reach for the biscuits too," explained Vanessa.

Carbs
You also might want to think about hitting the pasta, as carbohydrate foods promote the production of serotonin, which aids sleep.

Vitamin D
Targeting dinners which are rich in Vitamin D will boost moods and help you get better rest, such as oily fish, (salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, pilchards), and fortified products such as breakfast cereals and margarine and eggs.

Little and often
Regular eating is the best way to meet all your needs as missing meals and then eating large amounts in one sitting it places too large a demand on the digestive system.

Vanessa added, "and if you don't eat all day you will binge on high-fat and high-sugar foods that have little nutritional value."

Careful attention should also be paid to the overall balance of a person's diet, as it creates a cycle; lack of sleep leads to an increase in calorie consumption, which can lead to gaining weight and the development of more weight-related sleep problems.

Supplement it
If you are unable to eat a varied, balanced diet a good multivitamin and mineral supplement might be worthwhile taking.

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