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Many people don’t realise just how closely related sleep and food actually is. Your quality of sleep can directly affect your appetite in relation to your energy levels, while eating before bed can affect how quickly you fall asleep. Plus, different foods affect your sleep in different ways - some foods are beneficial to your sleep, while some are detrimental to it.
One of the best ways to have a healthy appetite and diet is by having a good sleep routine. If you don't get enough sleep during the night to feel fully refreshed, you’re more likely to suffer from cravings throughout the day as your body struggles with low energy levels. These types of cravings are generally for high fat foods that deliver a short, sharp energy boost. However, these spikes in energy will be fleeting and you might find yourself relying on regular fatty snacks to stay focused. Too much snacking means that you won’t get the benefits of regular mealtimes and your body will effectively be in a constant state of digesting hastily consumed junk food. In short, bad diet and poor sleep go hand-in-hand.
As a general rule of thumb it’s best not to eat anything substantial in the two or three hours before bedtime, as you might find your body working hard to digest it when you’re trying to drift off to sleep – which isn’t very restful. However, there are a number of foods that contain ingredients that can actually aid sleep, the main one being tryptophan, which promotes production of sleep-related hormones. Tryptophan is found in foods such as milk, eggs, turkey and bananas. Therefore making sure that you’ve got a good level of these foods in your regular diet could improve your sleep quality significantly.
Just as you’d expect, there is also a wide selection of food that can actively harm sleep quality. Chocolate is a known stimulant as it contains caffeine and tyrosine. Excessively spicy foods such as chilli can cause acid reflux and heartburn, as well as giving the body a tough digestive task. In a similar way, meals containing high levels of fat or protein can also cause difficult and long digestions that could go into the night and make you uncomfortable and restless.
By watching what you eat and making sure that your three main mealtimes contain sufficient energy-providing foods to get you through the day without snacking, you’re helping your body keep to a regular, dependable pattern and you won’t succumb to junk food cravings. This will mean that when the time comes to go to bed at night you’ll be suitably tired out and your body will be in a relaxed state, instantly improving the chances of a good night’s sleep.
You shouldn’t underestimate the close link between food and sleep. By sticking to a regular routine of good sleep you’re helping to give your body the energy it needs to perform during the day, and you’re also reducing the chances of craving quick high-fat energy boosts which can lead to falling into bad dietary habits. Plus, a healthy sleep routine and good diet will be beneficial to your overall wellbeing.