Nutrition and Sleep

Nutrition can be a major factor in our sleep. This can be directly and indirectly. It can lead to weight gain which is a risk factor for sleep apnea. Also it can promote the occurrence of diabetes and in so doing also increase the risk of sleep apnea.

Certain foods can promote sleep while others can disrupt sleep. Timing of meals is important. Number of calories and the source of the calories are also important.

Food can Help or Hurt Sleep

Beware of Hidden Caffeine

It's no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. But don't forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, tea, and decaffeinated coffee. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet at least four to six hours before bed or earlier in patients who are sensitive to caffeine. In people with severe chronic insomnia, sometimes entirely eliminating caffeine is necessary.

Beware of Heavy, Spicy Foods

Lying down with a full stomach can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. It can also lead to heartburn, as can spicy cuisine. Make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.

Keep Protein to a Minimum at Bedtime

Protein, an essential part of our daytime menu, is a poor choice for a bedtime snack. Protein-rich foods are harder to digest. Avoid the high-protein snack before bedtime and choose a glass of warm milk or some sleep-friendly carbohydrates.

Stop or Reduce Fluids by 8 P.M.

Yes, staying hydrated throughout the day is great for your body, but stop or reduce your fluid intake before bed. You're sure to have interrupted sleep if you're constantly getting up to go to the bathroom.

Indulge Your Craving for Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate-rich foods complement dairy foods by increasing the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. A few perfect late night snacks to get you snoozing might include a bowl of cereal and milk, yogurt and crackers, or bread.

Have a Snack Before Bedtime

If you struggle with insomnia, a little food in your stomach may help you sleep, but do not use this as an open invitation to over eat. Keep the snack small, a heavy meal will tax your digestive system, making you uncomfortable and unable to get soothing sleep.

Put Down the Burger and Fries!

As if you needed another reason to avoid high-fat foods, research shows that people who often eat high-fat foods not only gain weight, they also experience a disruption of their sleep cycles. A heavy meal activates digestion, which can lead to nighttime trips to the bathroom.

Remember: Read all food labels! (What you do not know may hurt you and your sleep).

Resources

For a list of helpful links and websites, visit our Resources section.

Resources »

Appointments

Ready to set up an appointment? Our office is convenient to downtown and West Knoxville. Visit the Plan Your Visit page for directions.

Locations »