How Does Nutrition Influence Sleep?

Today we're going to tell you which foods you should eat before sleeping, in order to get a better night's sleep.
How Does Nutrition Influence Sleep?

Last update: 21 February, 2020

Nutrition can have a pivotal role in your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Eating huge quantities of food or drinking alcohol can mess with your sleep cycle. So much, in fact, that you might suffer a lower quality rest period. So how does nutrition influence sleep? Well, maintaining an appropriate diet can improve your quality of sleep.

The body produces important hormones such as GH during the sleep phase. GH is involved in many of the anabolic processes as well as those related to the construction or repair of tissue. As such, it’s crucial to ensure that you get a restful sleep.

Insomnia is related to the contraction of many types of serious illnesses. An adult should ideally sleep for at least seven hours a night in order for the body to be able to repair itself appropriately. Not only that, but an appropriate quality of sleep is also related to reduced stress levels.

How does nutrition influence sleep? Alcohol worsens sleep

Consuming alcohol reduces your quality of sleep dramatically. It might inhibit the REM phase. This is one of the most important of the sleep phases. When you drink alcohol, your sleep tends to be much less restful. It’s also more likely that you’ll wake up several times during the middle of the night.

This gets even worse when you combine alcohol and caffeine. When you do this, you might not even be able to fall asleep at all. Sometimes this might even cause you to suffer from tachycardia. This is a combination you should avoid whenever possible.

Huge meals

Certain types of foods can be hard on your digestive system. That translates to gas, acid reflux, or diarrhea. All of these can lower your sleep quality.

A massive amount of junk food that can make it hard to sleep so does nutrition influence sleep? Of course

You should normally avoid eating too much food or excessive quantities of fats before you sleep. Experts recommend that you don’t go to bed until after two hours since you last ate. This can help you avoid acid reflux issues [1].

As for legumes, they increase your chances of feeling gassy. That’s because they’re fermented in the intestine. As such, it’s better not to have them for dinner if you’re a light sleeper. The same goes for people with compromised sleep quality.

Intolerance to certain foods can also affect the quality of your sleep. Many people have problems with certain foods that they aren’t even aware of. For example, there are lots of people who don’t know they’re lactose-intolerant. That means drinking milk can cause nocturnal gastrointestinal problems which could lead to an interruption in your sleep cycles.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that you should be careful about how you use spices. Those that are spicy or irritating can give you the feeling of being bloated or cause acid reflux.

Foods that help you to sleep better

Melatonin is a substance that facilitates and improves your quality of sleep [2]. You can get it from corn, tomatoes, or potatoes. But, it’s nuts that are the best source of this substance.

Melatonin is also a substance that many people take in supplements. It has antioxidant properties. The latest studies even link it to the prevention of certain types of cancer.

A normal dose would be about 1 mg 30 minutes before going to bed. Nevertheless, melatonin isn’t dosage-dependent. For some people, it might be necessary to use different doses to get it to work. Its effect is also strengthened if you take it with tryptophan or magnesium.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that you can find in dairy products, eggs, nuts, and oatmeal. Including these foods in your dinner plan can help to improve your sleep quality.

So how much does nutrition influence sleep?

There are a series of dietary strategies that can improve your quality of rest. Avoiding spicy food, alcohol, and substances such as caffeine for dinner will reduce the possibility that you’ll get insomnia. At the same time, they’ll help you get a more restful sleep.

It’s also a good idea to try and increase your melatonin and tryptophan levels. You can do this through nutrition by choosing foods that are rich in these substances.

A woman sleeping in her bed.

Another good option is to take supplements. A good baseline is to take 1 mg of melatonin every day, 30 minutes before sleeping. Once you do, you can assess the effectiveness of the dose. If necessary, you can then make changes to it.

The most effective melatonin formulations are those that also contain tryptophan, magnesium, or 5-HTP. These can help you optimize your rest and hormonal process. It can also improve your body’s recuperative mechanisms during sleep. Also, researchers have linked the taking of melatonin supplements to a reduction in risk for certain types of cancers.

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  • González Corbella MJ., La alimentación y el sueño. Estrategias nutricionales para evitar el insomnio. Offarm, 2007. 26 (2): 77-84.
  • Claustrat B., Leston J., Melatonin: physiological effects in humans. Neurochirurgie, 2015. 61 (2-3): 77-84.