We’ve all heard that old trope about not eating food right before bed. But it’s usually in regard to ruining your diet with late-night ice cream. But was that fact that it was 11pm what ruined your sleep that night? Or was it the ice cream?
Believe it or not, what we choose to eat and drink can have a profound impact on sleep duration and quality. So if you’ve got a high-end custom memory foam mattress but your sleep is still trash, consider your diet.
Let’s discuss a few foods and how they help or hinder a good night’s rest:
Help: Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats are the good kind – the stuff you find in olive oil, almonds and avocados. Besides these fats being good for your heart, they also raise serotonin levels. Both of these features increase slow-wave sleep.
Hinder: Saturated Fats
Trans fats and saturated fats are objectively bad for you. They hurt your cholesterol, heart health, and increase your risk of obesity, which also hurts your sleep. Unlike unsaturated fats, saturated fats actually lower your serotonin levels, increasing sleep disruption.
Help: Fibrous Foods
Plant foods high in fiber have a long, long list of health benefits. They help sleep by aiding the body in digestion, and unlike unhealthy snacks, they don’t cause acid reflux. It’s also been shown that chewing on fresh herbs can help you fall asleep.
Hinder: Processed Carbs
Nutrition studies on sleep quality consistently show that eating processed carbs like chips or noodle before bed results in lower-quality, lighter sleep. Complex carbs, on the other hand, have the opposite effect.
In random science news, there’s a whole corner of clinical sleep studies dedicated to the medicinal benefits of eating kiwis in people who suffer from sleep disorders. Results from one study showed that, after 4 weeks of nightly kiwi-eating, participants had a 35% decrease in sleep onset, a 13% increase in sleep length, and a 5% increase in sleep efficiency. Researchers posit the high levels of antioxidants and serotonin and antioxidants in kiwis.
Hundreds of sleep studies pretty much agree that alcohol before bed hurts your sleep. Yes, alcohol is a sedative, so, yes, you usually fall asleep and get into deep sleep more quickly. However, alcohol then disrupts the rhythm of your sleep cycle, causing an imbalance in sleep stages and robbing you of those all-important REM stages.
Cherries contain tryptophan, which is a key building block of melatonin, the sleep chemical your body emits at night to keep you asleep. Some studies have found that drinking tart cherry juice before bed has improved sleep quality in patients with insomnia.
Caffeine literally blocks the chemicals in our body that tell us to sleep. And you might think, Oh, well I stop drinking coffee after work – no big deal. But since caffeine can stay in your system for over 6 hours after you drink it, it is likely hurting your ability to fall asleep.
Water is the fuel that keeps your body working properly. From making it possible for bodily systems like digestion to function to lubricating our joints and hydrating our skin, water is life. Literally. While you shouldn’t drink a glass right before bed, keeping well-hydrated overall in life will make it easier for your body to perform those go-to-sleep procedures you need to get a quality night’s rest.
Hinder: Spicy Foods
Anything heavy, high in protein or fat, and spicy should be eaten a few hours before bed. No; that red curry is not a good midnight snack. These kinds of foods are hard on your digestive system, but spicy foods tend to cause acid reflux and heartburn when you lay down directly after eating them.
The Vicious Cycle of Eating Poorly & Sleeping Poorly
Is what you eat really all that important for improving your sleep? Research thinks so: sleep scientists have noticed that food and drink are an even more powerful tool for sleep than mindfulness techniques. So maybe not everything is mind over matter.
The other issue with those late night Cheetos and cupcakes is that they’re actually hurting your circadian cycle as well as your whole-body-health. This is because eating poorly leads to bad sleep, and people who sleep poorly then crave those bad foods, and so on.
Make the Most of Your Custom Mattress by Keeping a Healthy Diet
So, yes; you can have a beautiful, brand new, totally bespoke mattress on your bed complete with luxury custom linens and memory foam pillows; Custom Mattress Factory can help you with that. But if you’re always eating ice cream and drinking a glass of wine with that last streaming episode of the night, it won’t matter. But hey – now you’ve got another good reason to get going back on that diet.