This, for me, is a complicated topic.
There are so many variables around sleeping, that singling out what we eat as a major (or even minor) factor is stretching my limits of credulity.
But I do think there are some general things that we can do to prevent food from being a major contributor to poor sleep:
- Making sure that you’re not digesting hard to digest food later in the evening. After dinner, everything you eat should be easy to digest (ie: milk, cereal). Things like meat, that require a lot of activity in your stomach to break down, seem to me to be a bad choice. Getting up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache should cause you to think about what you ate after dinner.
- It’s been proven that alcohol has a strange effect on how we sleep. It starts out initially OK, and it can cause you to fall asleep faster. But later on in the night, chances are that you will awaken often, and that the sleep that you get won’t be restful. And if you wake up with a hangover, then most of the next day is shot as well.
- Having a big glass of water (juice, milk, soda, whatever) before you go to bed us just asking to awaken and take a trip to the bathroom to pee. I stop drinking anything a couple of hours before bedtime, and visit the washroom right before bed to make sure the bladder is empty. Valerian Tea is off my list of things to try for this precise reason.
- Eating sugar, especially in kids, can make them hyperactive. Even though the science says otherwise, ask any teacher if there’s an uptick in activity after Halloween and they’ll all say “yes”. Sugar late in the day (evening) could cause younger people to have a hard time calming down for sleep.
- I think there can be a link between a heavy carbohydrate meal and sleepyness – it makes you tired (due to the insulin response), but I don’t really know if it affects the quality of your sleep.
So my over-riding thought is that, outside of these general rules, there isn’t a big link between what we eat and how we sleep. The whole turkey/trytophan thing is more of a insulin response than anything else. And I’ve tried warm milk and it doesn’t work at all.
But it could be just me! Nothing else works for me either….
Do you have a link between food and sleep?
If you do, I’d like to know!
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