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Is your diet affecting your sleep?

Last Modified: 6/26/2020

diet and sleep

It’s no secret that sleep plays an important role in our physical health. It’s a key component in the healing, restorative and repair processes our bodies require. But what if your sleep patterns are being sabotaged by the food you’re consuming throughout the day? We asked Ram Verma, MD, PPG – Sleep Medicine, to further explain the importance of a healthy diet and its impact on our sleep hygiene.

What you eat can directly affect the quality of sleep you’re getting each night. Take a quick inventory of the following diet do’s and don’ts to assess your daily routine:

Do’s
  • Consuming a healthy balanced diet rich in fiber and low in added sugar can help you get better sleep during the night.
  • A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein sources like fish, chicken, eggs, meat and milk can help you have a restful night.
  • Incorporating foods rich in vitamin B complex can help with the regulation of melatonin, helping you maintain a good sleep cycle.
  • Because digestion can slow down during sleep, try eating a lighter meal in the evening. It may help you take a positive step toward a good night’s rest.
  • Weight loss can also help improve the quality of sleep and reduce snoring.

Bonus! Did you know a cup of warm milk can have a positive effect on your sleep?

Don’ts
  • Steer clear of a diet high in saturated fat and low in fiber. It can negatively affect the quality of sleep you are getting by reducing deep restorative sleep during the night.
  • Say no to sweets. Too much added sugar can cause midnight awakenings.
  • Also, be aware of beverages that may contain caffeine and try to avoid them in the evening, so you don’t derail your sleep routine.
What heartburn could be telling you

If someone is suffering from heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diet and timing could play an important role. Overall, it’s best to avoid large fatty meals, fried or spicy food, acidic foods, alcohol and certain beverages. Staying away from these types of food can help alleviate your heartburn. Also, try having dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime to possibly circumvent heartburn symptoms.

However, if someone is suffering from chronic heartburn, there might be some underlying sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and daytime somnolence. Also, sleep apnea creates negative intrathoracic pressure, which could exacerbate your heartburn. If left untreated, some disorders can interrupt daily activities, and can even lead to larger issues including hypertension, depression and heart disease.

Where to turn for help

If you or a loved one feel sleepy, fatigued or tired, despite having 7-8 hours of sleep, it could be an indicator of poor quality of sleep.  If you are suffering from non-restorative sleep, despite your best efforts to eat healthy, it might be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder and you may benefit from a consultation with a physician who specializes in Sleep Medicine. Please contact our team at 260-266-5260 if you or a loved one aren’t getting the rest you need.

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