It’s no secret that diet, exercise and sleep are three pillars that require balance for optimal health. The three work synergistically and to help or hinder one’s health depending on whether one pillar is out of balance. Like the domino effect, when one pillar falls, it gradually affects other pillars. Below are the various foods that affect optimal sleep.
Food & The Human Body Position
Most people do not realize that the body is constantly influenced by gravity. That means when upright food better passes through the body’s system, thanks to the help of gravity moving the eaten food downward. Thus, when lying down after eating, especially after a large meal, digestion is not optimal partly because the food is influenced differently from gravity because of the body’s position.
Without a doubt, overconsumption of caffeine greatly affects, or alters, sleep patterns. Caffeine is a natural chemical that stimulates the nervous system, thus affecting sleep. Sodas, coffee, teas, chocolate and energy-producing products should be reduced throughout the day and avoided several hours before bedtime.
Alcohol is the “Catch-22” food. A drink or two, every “now and then,” will ease the body and relax the mind. However, chronic alcohol drinkers who “relax” with a drink every day after work eventually needs “more” alcohol to relax. Plus, after several hours of alcohol in the system, the body does not go into deep sleep, but rather is a lighter, more awake sleep. Alcohol should not be used as a sleeping aide. It is ideal to drink a 1:1 ratio of alcohol to water to dilute the alcohol’s effects in the body.
Large meals, especially fast-food, makes the digestive system work harder at night. However, the digestion system works slower while at rest. This may lead to frequent trips to the bathroom and can stir up active late-night minds that worry about tomorrow’s responsibilities.
High Protein Foods
Juicy steaks and bacon-cheeseburgers, and any other high protein foods, are harder to digest. Protein takes longer to digest versus carbohydrates. Eating these foods, especially close to bedtime, result in the same effects as large meals, which turns digestion on and alters sleep.
Heavily Spiced Meals
If you love curry and ultra-spicy meals, eat them earlier during the day. Spicy foods disrupt many people’s digestive tract, leading to heartburn, bloating or gas. Remember most sleep disruptions occur due to diet, overeating, and the type of food. Save the spices for lunch or an early dinner.