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Can What You Eat Affect Your Sleep

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Have you ever noticed that some nights you simply can’t fall asleep or stay asleep? While your day might have gone the same as any other, it could be something you ate. Your nutrition and sleep quality are important to your overall health, but did you know one can affect the other? What you eat affects your sleep in many different ways, and certain beverages and foods can make it harder to get the sleep you need every night. In addition, getting enough sleep is key to ensuring you can follow your diet, as getting poor sleep is associated with cravings and unhealthy habits.

Additionally, poor sleep quality can bleed into other areas of your life. For example, losing out on sleep can make it harder to get up in the morning, making you late for work or any important meetings. If you have priorities to attend to in the morning, it’s essential to prioritize your sleep quality so that you can perform the duties of your day.


Nutrition refers to the types of foods and drinks you consume for energy. Nutrition focuses on macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The right nutrition for you depends on many factors, including your age, health condition, weight, height, and even sex. However, proper nutrition generally means maintaining a healthy balance of different nutrients so that your body has what it needs to keep you functioning and healthy.

Nutrition and Sleep

Nutrition and sleep have a complex relationship. What you eat can affect all aspects of your daily life, including how well you sleep and your memory. Individuals who eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables can give themselves a better night’s sleep because they have all the nutrients their body and mind need to rest, relax, and heal. Not only will a good night of sleep help you be awake and alert in the morning, but it can also help you excel in school and work. When you don’t get enough sleep or have poor sleep, it makes it harder for your brain to function and can negatively impact your memory.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for researchers to conduct studies on the effects of nutrition on sleep because they’re both complex processes. Therefore, no one diet is better than another for sleep, but adequate nutrition is key to quality sleep. Therefore, consuming unhealthy foods before bed can affect how well you sleep, resulting in tossing and turning and grogginess in the morning.

Additionally, nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are important for sleep quality. Lack of key nutrients has been associated with sleep problems, but these studies only prove correlation rather than cause and effect. That being said, diet does affect certain pathways and processes involved in sleep.

For example, meals high in carbs can affect someone’s energy level, making it more difficult to fall asleep, and can reduce your ability to recall and remember things.  When you eat meals packed with carbohydrates, like large pasta dinners, you may feel drowsy, which can affect how well you’re able to sleep later. High carb intake can increase the number of times you wake up throughout the night while reducing the total amount of sleep you get following the meal.

Have you ever noticed that some nights you simply can’t fall asleep or stay asleep? While your day might have gone the same as any other, it could be something you ate.Click To Tweet

Of course, what you drink can also affect your sleep, especially regarding certain ingredients. For example, highly caffeinated beverages, like energy drinks, tea, and coffee, can affect sleep quality, especially when consumed too close to bedtime.

Luckily, many different diets can give you the nutritional balance you need to improve your sleep. For example, plant-based diets that incorporate lean proteins can improve sleep quality, and so can the fully vegan diet when individuals get enough vitamins and minerals, whether through food or supplementation. Further research is still needed to identify the benefits of different types of diets and compare the effects, but diets that allow you to get all the nutrients you need have been proven to improve sleep quality.

unhealthy diet

Unhealthy Diets

Unhealthy diets can affect the quality of your sleep and other sleep issues. For example, individuals suffering from sleep apnea that causes impaired breathing through the night can experience worsening symptoms when they gain weight. Since this sleep disorder is often associated with obesity, unhealthy diets that contribute to weight gain may worsen existing sleep disorders or cause new ones.

In addition, even minor changes in your diet, like eating junk food before bed, can cause sleep issues. For example, if you need nothing but cake for dinner, you may experience a sugar high that causes you to stay up later or keep you tossing and turning all night long.

Does Sleep Affect Nutrition?

As we’ve mentioned, sleep and nutrition have a complicated relationship and affect each other. Your body needs sleep to rest and recover, ultimately energizing itself for the next day and preventing the mid-day slump from occurring. However, when you don’t get the sleep you need, your body makes you look for everything in other ways, such as the food you eat. Insufficient sleep is associated with an increased risk of obesity because your body and brain may crave certain foods like sugar and carbs after a night of poor sleep. In addition, people who don’t get enough sleep may eat more the following day as a way to increase energy.

On the other hand, adequate sleep can improve nutrition because individuals won’t have the same level of cravings or feel the need to eat more to boost their energy levels. Instead, they’ll feel well-rested after a night of good sleep. In addition, sleeping reduces overeating and can facilitate exercise because you feel more refreshed when you wake up.

How Sleep and Nutrition Affect Your Life

It’s clear that sleep and nutrition impact one another, but they can also affect aspects of your life. Nutrition and sleep have a direct impact on your productivity. Think of a time when you went to bed really late the night before work, how did you feel the next day? Not getting enough sleep or poor eating habits can lead to a mid-day slump, making you feel like you won’t be able to get through the second half of your workday without a nap. Poor lifestyle habits can also negatively affect your mental health making it even harder to execute your responsibilities. These two factors also influence your memory function, making it difficult to recall information or digest new information. Many people with poor eating and sleeping habits find it harder to wake up in the morning or get in the right mindset to go to work or school.

Improving Sleep and Nutrition

If you want to improve your sleep quality, as well as the other areas in life in which sleep is impactful, you’ll need to improve your nutrition. However, you’ll also need to improve your sleep quality to improve your nutrition. Since this complex relationship is more of a cycle than anything else, you may wonder how you can get started with one to influence the other. Luckily, you can improve your sleep and how well you perform throughout the day by focusing on your diet right now. So instead of reaching for an unhealthy bag of chips, try a bag of carrots to see how you sleep tonight and feel the next day.

Making small changes may not feel like it’ll have a huge impact on your health, but small changes can lead to big results because they influence more healthy choices. Keep a food and sleep diary to help you track your sleep based on what you eat throughout the day. You may be able to find patterns. For example, if you drank coffee in the afternoon one day and didn’t get quality sleep, you’ll know that drinking caffeine late in the day affects your sleep.

If you’re struggling to improve your sleep and nutrition, consider talking to your doctor, who can help you identify your sleep issues and recommend a nutrition plan that helps you get the sleep you deserve.

Megan Isola

Eat to Sleep: What to Eat and When to Eat It for a Good Night's Sleep
$15.99 $14.89

Utilize food as your all-natural solution to sleeplessness with this easy guide that teaches you just what to eat—and when to eat it—to fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed. 

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02/29/2024 06:01 pm GMT

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