Does eating affect your sleep?

Exercise, drinking and stress all affect your sleep but did you know that the food you eat has the biggest influence?  Some foods can cause havoc with your belly – and that’s not what you need before you drift off to sleep.

It’s said that if you eat at certain times of the day, normal body functions are affected but what does this do to your sleeping pattern?

Read on to discover more about eating the right meals for optimal sleep:

Types of meals

Certain food groups – such as spicy foods – may be extremely tasty but they can play havoc with your belly and can lead to indigestion or heartburn.These feelings of discomfort can make it much harder to sleep.

Dairy foods such as milk and cheeses, along with food like oats and beans, also impact your sleep because they encourage us to build up gas, leaving us feeling bloated.

It is a good idea to avoid too many processed foods such as ready meals, as too much salt can dehydrate your body and raise your blood pressure, both of which can disturb your sleep.

Sometimes a bowl of cereal might be just what you’re craving but do you really need all that extra sugar? The sugar-dense cereals digest rapidly and can cause a spike in blood sugar, which could send your sleep hormones off kilter. You should also steer clear of soft drinks as they also contain a lot of sugar, which is linked to shallow sleep.

Eating at different times of the day

A study at the University of Surrey measured the effects a meal has on your body at different times of the day. Participants were asked to eat the same meal in the morning and evening, to see how long it takes the body to break down food.

The outcome was that the body takes much longer to break down food in the evening than in the morning. So, it is best to eat heavier, more calorie-dense meals in the morning and stick to light meals in the evening as this will to give your body the best chance to break down the food so that you can get a restful night’s sleep.

According to scientists, skipping brekkie makes you hungrier and therefore, more likely to eat huge meals and snack. This inevitably leads to a spike in blood sugar, potentially causing conditions such as high blood pressure, which can make sleeping more difficult.

The 3-hour rule

It is never a good idea to eat just before lying down to go to sleep, as our bodies need to be upright in order to digest food properly. When you lie down,your stomach and neck are on the same level, and this can cause acid in the stomach to leak out into the esophagus and create what is known as “acid reflux”. Acid reflux can cause a variety of problems including heartburn, indigestion, coughing and even asthma.

This is why you should always leave 3 hours between eating your tea and going to sleep as itallows the body plenty of time to break down foods and get back to normal functions.

So as explained, eating big meals at the wrong time of day, or eating the wrong types of foodcan affect your sleep and in turn, lead to sleep deprivation.

Hopefully you have learned some tips to help you decide what to eat and when, to help you get optimum sleep. These great ways to improve sleep, combined with a comfy mattress are all you need to succeed!

Sweet dreams!