There are many possible reasons for poor sleep, including stress, exercise, light, and daily activities, among others. However, if you have trouble sleeping, you may also look for the reason from the diet.
British sleep expert Kevin Morgan said that although there is not much evidence to prove that “eating well” can help sleep, but eating poorly will certainly bring “adverse effects” on sleep.
He sorted out the following five reasons that may affect sleep, related to diet.
Eating Irregularly May Affect Sleep
“Habitual routines keep sleep in sync,” Morgan said. The body’s internal clock is called the circadian rhythm, he says. Each person’s biological clock is unique to you individually and is something you take for granted.
Mealtime is an important “time cue” to distinguish and synchronize day and night, Morgan explained. “If the circadian rhythm is disturbed, it will interfere with sleep.
As for specific meal times, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” or uniform time. But the important thing is to keep yourself comfortable and regular. Of course, everyone will occasionally eat irregularly, but Morgan said the rhythm will usually return within a day or two.
Poor Diet and Nutrition May Affect Sleep
A nutrient-rich diet is beneficial for sleep. Studies have found that adults who are sleep deprived are more likely to have lower intakes of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. And there was a correlation between poor sleep and reduced intakes of vitamins C, D, E and K in people over 50 years of age.
It is unclear whether short sleep duration is caused by low intake, or whether poor sleepers are generally less likely to eat a balanced diet, or a combination of both.
When you eat, you’re also feeding trillions of bacteria in your gut, and studies have shown that having a variety of microbes in the gut can improve sleep for some people.
For this reason, both Professor Spector, a gut health expert at King’s College London, and Rossi, a gut health doctor, recommend that to increase the diversity of microbes in the gut, eat at least 30 different plant-based diets each week – such as a variety of nuts, legumes, grains, seeds, spices, and foods such as fruits and vegetables.
It’s best to follow a diet rich in high-fiber foods as well as some probiotics, and to eat less and no highly processed foods.
Drinking Caffeinated Beverages Too Late Affects Sleep
Half of the caffeine you consume will still be in your body 5 or 6 hours later; a quarter will be left after 10-12 hours.
Caffeine blocks the receptors for the chemical adenosine, which promotes your feeling of fatigue, thus affecting the ability to fall asleep.
Even when you fall asleep, says sleep scientist Professor Walker, caffeine reduces the duration of restorative deep sleep, “which may leave you not feeling refreshed when you wake up the next morning.”
It is worth noting that in addition to tea, coffee and energy drinks, chocolate also contains caffeine, although the cocoa (caffeine) content is much lower than coffee.
Alcohol Does Not Help With Sleep
“Alcohol is perhaps one of the most misunderstood sleep aids,” says Walker. Alcohol is a sedative, but the sedative effect is very different from natural sleep.
Walker explains that sedatives turn off “brain cell firing,” while during normal deep sleep, the brain produces a large number of brain waves and “hundreds of thousands of brain cells are incredibly coordinated with each other.
Alcohol also prevents rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when dreaming occurs, which is “good for emotional and mental health, and even creativity. During sleep, alcohol also triggers “the nerves in the ‘fight or flight’ part of the nervous system,” which can cause you to wake up more often during the night.
Morgan said that any dietary adjustments that try to improve sleep may be overshadowed by the effects of alcohol, although he added that very small amounts of alcohol may have little effect.
Drinking Too Much Water Before Going to Bed Can Also Affect Sleep
It is recommended that people drink 6-8 glasses of water/fluids per day. While it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, if you’re up a lot at night, it’s best to cut back on the amount of water you drink before bedtime, it suggests.
Morgan says that whether drinks that are often seen as helpful for sleep — such as hot milk or herbal teas (also known as herbal teas) — will actually improve your sleep usually depends on your personal habits.
“People who regularly drink hot milk before bed may have trouble sleeping if they’re not allowed to, but those who don’t drink hot milk may also have their sleep affected if they do,” Morgan says.
Chamomile tea has been shown to help relieve anxiety, insomnia and a number of other sleep-related problems, and if you don’t want to drink tea at night, you can also take chamomile pills.
If reducing your bedtime fluid intake still doesn’t stop recurring nighttime wakefulness, it’s best to see your doctor.